I Heart Naps!

By Tara Patriquin, Massage Therapist One day, upon waking up from a nap, I looked to my computer for the time. There, staring me in the face, was a post-it: “BLOG”! So it hit me: I’ll write about napping. Recently, our colleagues at OneUp shared a link about the benefits of proper sleep.  There is more and more interesting research coming out supporting the idea of segmented sleep cycles. The topic of sleep has always fascinated me, from the hormonal balance of our circadian rhythms, to the metabolic processes that occur during sleep, and even the dreams that we have. While establishing a good sleep routine is critical to your overall health, I am a firm believer in the power of the power nap! You see, growing up in my family was a dream. We were not only allowed – but encouraged – to take a nap if we were tired. My parents were of the belief that a healthy body and mind was a well-rested one. I suppose part of this stems from the fact that my dad worked shift work and my mom suffered from severe migraines. Nevertheless, a goodnight’s sleep and naps are still commonplace in my life. Napping gets a bad rap, but the average adult could benefit from this often-tabooed activity. While diet and proper energy maintenance can help reduce the effects of the afternoon crash, researchers are discovering that our body’s natural sleep rhythm may dictate a midday nap. Studies have even shown that a 20-minute power nap is more beneficial to the body than taking those extra 20 minutes in the morning. Ancient Yogis knew the benefits of a cat-nap on the immune and nervous system. And, to this day, many countries include a siesta in their workday. Originally the siesta was intended for family time, and time with friends, not necessarily a nap. Over the years, however, the term has become synonymous with an afternoon nap. Japan has introduced “nap salons”, with some companies covering the fees for their workers as part of their health benefits. And, in China the right to rest in the afternoon is an actual Constitutional right. Being fatigued can interfere with your mental productivity, your physical alertness, and your emotional stability. All of these impairments can interfere with many activities of daily living and your motivation to stick to your fitness regimen. Not to mention, many people’s clean eating falls victim to fatigue, since we are more apt to reach for sugar or stimulants when feeling sluggish. Sadly, because we are such a fast paced society, our work schedules are now conflicting with our shut-eye time and the natural rejuvenation of a power nap has been replaced by the artificial stimulation of a 15-minute coffee break. But you can reverse the formula; trade your second cup of coffee for a nap! So, just how long should...

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