Would you benefit from napping?

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world for material to help other writers. Today I discuss a blog post that will help you answer the question, would you benefit from napping?

I have never seen myself as a napper.

I may be slow to wake up, and tired in the evening, but somehow, I never have the urge to lay down my head at mid-day.

And on days when I’ve tried to do it, (because I had a spectacularly bad sleep the night before), I only encounter frustration. I cannot fall asleep during the day, so I toss and turn, feeling both angry and like a failure.

But my son, who is a pretty good napper, once gave me a piece of advice that changed my life. “Don’t expect to fall asleep,” he said. “Just lie there in a darkened room.” This strategy works. Even 20 minutes of such “resting” — which is the term I prefer for shutting my eyes without falling asleep — greatly refreshes me.

If you’ve ever wondered if you could benefit from napping, here is a terrific blog post to check out from the team at Psyche. Headlined, “How to nap,” the post offers advice, background on napping, and some great research.

Here is part of what they say about why napping has become a hot topic recently:

“The new spate of interest in napping relates [in part] to people who obtain adequate or near-adequate sleep at night, but who have become interested in using naps as a performance-optimisation tool. Their interest is justified by a recent research review showing that, even with adequate nighttime sleep, naps can boost productivity and learning.”

Their suggested length of time for napping? It can be as little as 10 minutes. Here’s what they say:

“You might wonder whether 10 minutes is worth it. In fact, on days following a regular night of sleep, studies show that even a short, 10-minute nap can be beneficial. In a recent experiment we performed with participants who adhered to their normal overnight sleep habits, we compared the effects of nap durations ranging from 10 to 60 minutes on their self-rating of sleepiness, alertness and positive mood. We found robust improvements on all these measures after all the nap lengths, even naps as short as 10 minutes.”

As for people like me, who can’t fall asleep at midday, they advise, “A recent body of work shows that even closing your eyes for several minutes without actually sleeping can be restorative.”

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