Monday, March 21, 2011

Napping & The Highly Coveted Power Nap

Research has shown that a body needs at least 8 hours of sleep per night in order to function at its best.  However, this isn't always feasible and sometimes even getting 8 hours per night just doesn't seem to provide the extra "rest, refresh, & refuel" that we need (especially during times of transition or upheaval).  I have recently rediscovered a little nugget of "zing" that presently has me professing to be a "power nap junkie". 

I have always loved to sleep.  When my sons were under the age of 5, naps were essential (for both mother & child).  At first, I told myself that I needed to nap with them to get them to go to sleep & to help them fall back to sleep if they awoke too soon.  It wasn't long before I looked forward to these "nap times".  Sometimes a 2 hour nap seemed a bit long for me, so I'd get up after about 1 hour and use the rest of the baby's nap time as "me time".  If you've ever cared for babies, you understand that sleep is essential and every last drop that you can squeeze out of each day sustains you.   When children get older, naps aren't as necessary, so it is easy to forget how vital they can be. 

Several years ago, I had a brief encounter with power naps.  This was prodded by a new job working with emotionally disturbed students, a difficult time at home, and regular duties that make up motherhood.  I was physically & emotionally exhausted.  Thank goodness I had an assistant at work (as most teachers do not) and could actually take a lunch break most days.  Out of necessity, I found myself retreating to my warm car for a 20 minute nap.  It did the trick.  I could venture back into my classroom (which, pre-nap, I had jokingly referred to as my post at the gates of hell) and continue to provide love to those in need.  Somehow, I seemed to make it through that difficult time at home and managed to keep my kids fed, clothed, and nurtured just enough. 

Many years have passed.  My kids are more independent and my home life is pretty great. I have recently changed jobs (which is a much needed improvement, as I am no longer a gatekeeper for hell).  However, with the job change and still feeling the newness of it, I find myself in a state of transition.  Transition brings exhaustion: schedule changes, figuring out how & when to get my kids to and from school, figuring out how to juggle graduate school, figuring out the pieces of a new job, and figuring out a new identity based on a new job.  This week my kids went on vacation with their grandparents & I found myself with a little bit of flexibility in time.  My love sent me an article titled "Unleash the Power of the Nap".  It reminded me of those warm car naps that used to be part of my everyday survival.  Perhaps they could help during this time of transition, I thought.  I am by no means in "survival mode" as I was in those days, but maybe it would help take the edge off.  On Tuesday, I went out to my car, set an alarm on my phone, and proceeded to try to settle in for a power nap.  I felt like I had trouble falling asleep & it was over practically as soon as it began.   I went back into the office feeling groggy.  However, this grogginess lasted only 5 minutes, then the magic set in.  I felt totally refreshed and it just kept getting better.  By evening, I was sold.  I had an abundance of energy and felt very alert.  In fact, I began realizing just how sleep deprived I had been in the previous months.  I found time for a  10-20 minute nap every day for the rest of the week and it became increasingly easier to get to sleep.  My boys returned from their vacation and I found myself frantically wondering when I'd get my next nap fix with my flexibility in time being compromised once again.  Then I remembered that it is tennis season and I frequently have to wait in the car with my younger son while my older son has practice after school.  Generally, this has been a time to catch up on reading and assist my son with homework, however, I wonder...

Yes, I think a multitasking superwoman is just the person to pull this off...I'll let you know the results of this experiment next week & I suggest you try to carve out some time for a 20 minute snooze...

and remember, "You snooze you lose" (that nagging emotional & physical exhaustion) ;-)

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