Defintely Power Nap

April 29, 2011

General, sickle cell

A power nap can be just as effective as coffee when you’re feeling overly tired or under pressure. In many ways a power nap may even be more affective because it has health benefits. Power naps not only rejuvenate you, they help to relieve stress and strengthen the bodies immune system. Waking from a power nap you may feel refreshed, more relaxed and confident to take on the next task. There are measurable physical, and mental changes in the brain that can be detected after a nap. Studies show a person who takes a nap during the day is less likely to develop heart disease than a person who does not take naps.

However, like a lot of people, I feel like I’m wasting time when I take a nap. Even when I’m so tired that I’m nodding off at my desk. Even when working half asleep, I’d still rather not step away from my desk, find a quiet place to relax and take a nap. I’m always thinking about what I could or should be doing. Still, napping clears the mind and quiets the constant noise and thinking going on inside your head. It forces those tense muscles to relax. An added benefit is that it takes some of the emotion out of pressing decisions that need to be made. I also find when I take a nap during the day, I feel better. My mood is happier and I can think more creatively. So, even though I don’t like to or want to take naps during the day, I do most days because they help reduce stress and re-new energy.

A 10-15 minute power nap would frustrate me, but for a lot of people, it’s all they need to get back to work with all their mental and physical capacity. Nothing short of an hour will work for me. But to each his own. I suggest trying difference lengths of time at different times of the day to see what works for you.

Naps are unpopular. Americans aren’t supposed to take naps really. We are supposed to go all day, never submit to fatigue or stress and never break down. Americans work from sun up to sun down, 5-7 days a week, come home to take care of our families, tackle house hold chores and leave no time for ourselves. Eventually this catches up with us. Stress and fatigue manifests itself in sickle cell patients with pain, infection and sometimes anemia. The body is not built like the energizer bunny. It can’t keep going and going. Heart disease is a leading cause of death in America and stress is the underlying cause in many cases. A nap is a simple and easy remedy that can have a positive effect on many stress related illnesses.

Generally, when we can sustain long days and sleepless nights it’s because we have become accustomed to a daily ritual. For instance, we start the morning with coffee. Coffee keeps us sharp all morning. Then we have another cup after lunch to avoid the sleepy feeling we get after eating. This afternoon caffeine jolt can last us the rest of the afternoon and through the evening –through the homework and dinner with the family. However, coming down from the caffeine high has proven difficult and can keep you up all night. That’s when we turn to a glass of wine or other alcoholic beverage to help us unwind and get to sleep at night. The cycle starts over the next morning. This cycle is actually the normal for many American families.

I realize we Americans are doing what is expected of us. I also realized many of us can get fired if found sleeping on the job whether you’re on your break or not. (Employers can be ruthless) So, if a nap at work is impossible for you, I’d suggest meditation. There are meditative methods that help you achieve total relaxation while sitting up in a chair with your eyes open. With a little research, you can find some on-line. Happy Napping! 

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