I know the day has just begun, but I’m already planning ahead for an afternoon nap. Because, in the ten plus years since I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, I’ve learned how to listen to my body and make rest a priority.
As a nation, many of us are chronically sleep deprived. In addition to a continual yawn and battles with the snooze button, sleep deprived people are extremely irritable and likely to snap at the smallest things. Or they come across as socially inept by saying incomprehensible things or looking at people like they are speaking a different language. They can also experience a bone-deep exhaustion that makes them want to just sit there and do nothing. (Been there, done that!) Sleep deprivation can also cause poor concentration, interfere with memory, and make it difficult to handle any amount of stress. It has also been found to increase the chances of stroke, obesity, and memory loss.
All of the above makes interacting with people and pursuing your dreams nearly impossible!
So, how can you get more sleep, even if you’re trying to spend enough hours in bed? A recent study about the habits of well-rested people found that they have the discipline to make the most of the same hours the rest of us have available.
First, they don’t sleep in. Instead, they cater to the body’s natural rhythms by getting up at about the same time every day and therefore train the body to fall asleep on time. Then, well-rested people leave the electronics at the bedroom door to remind the body that this place is for sleeping and not for checking one more email message. If they nap, they do it strategically between 2 and 3 in the afternoon and not for more than 30 minutes. They make sure to be physically active during the day as well as eat and drink the right stuff (like limiting caffeine after 4 o’clock or avoiding a large, heavy, spicy meal late at night). Well-rested people have a routine to wind themselves down so that when their head hits the pillow, they are already relaxed and halfway to dreamland. Some people simply like to be lower down to the ground as opposed to raised and choose to sleep on a mattress on floor.
One more thing. While well-rested people appreciate the value of a good night’s sleep, they don’t stress about it if they can’t fall asleep right away. Anxiety becomes counter-productive and makes it harder to fall asleep. Instead, get up and do something relaxing until you start to feel tired.
All that to say, my nap this afternoon is a good thing!
What about you? Do you take naps? How much sleep do you get on a typical night?