This past weekend had a common theme :: Every time we came to a fork in the road, our pillows won.
Question when the alarm went off at 6:45 on Saturday morning: Should we ride now or later?
Answer: Three more hours of sleep, breakfast in bed, and lounging in front of the TV until noon. (Shocking, I know. We rarely watch TV, and, if weren’t for the History Channel, we probably would get rid of the thing. But, I could watch American Pickers all morning. Oh, wait, I did.)
Question after Sunday brunch: Should we workout or should we start that home improvement project we’ve been talking about?
Answer: A three-hour nap. (For the record, the home improvement project did happen later that evening and was totally worth it. We desperately needed more closet/storage space in our circa 1924 home. Fortunately, Brad has a big hammer, and he knows to use it.)
The result: Brad and I got to enjoy just ‘being’ instead of always ‘doing’. And, I actually started the workweek feeling rested. I am alert, focused on the task at-hand, and ready to kick butt.
This got me thinking about the power of a good, solid nap. As it turns out, the benefits of napping aren’t just in my head . . .
Scientists have been studying it for years. NASA found that naps can improve memory functions and that long naps are better than short ones. (We sleep in 90-minute cycles, which helps explain why the 3-hour nap happened so frequently in our house.) A study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health found that a mid-day nap reverses information overload and can boost performance to your peak. And, countless other studies have reached the same conclusion that naps increase brain power and can make you smarter.
Elite athletes know that naps are a key component of recovery. A lack of sleep interferes with the metabolism of glucose, which your muscles need for recovery. It also compromises your immune system, which is already vulnerable during marathon training.
Naps are a common practice for many other cultures, particularly those in warm climates, such as Spain, Greece, and southern Italy.
[Warning: I just pulled out my soap box. I promise to put it away quickly.]
So what gives? Why are kindergarteners the only ones who get mandatory nap time? Why do the Greeks, Italians, and Spaniards get to have all the napping fun? (Don’t even get me started on the food!!) Why the heck have Americans spent so much money researching the benefits of napping if no one is prepared to apply it?!?!
[Putting the soap box away now.]
Armed with this knowledge, I vow never to feel guilty about nap time again. And, neither should you. 🙂