We often discus sleep with clients, as sleep, or lack of it has a major effect on energy levels, how we feel and how easy it is to change our body shape or lose weight. It can often be a major factor in plateaued weight loss results. We are also increasingly aware of its potential effects on long-term health.
For years I always prided myself on being the first person at work in the morning, working flat out throughout the day into the late evening. ?Sleep? Who needs that? Napping? Not for me- I don?t have time, I?ve got far too much to do! If I nap in the day I will never be able to get to sleep at night?.
I also had a belief, based on some experience (and helpful feedback from significant others), that if I took a nap I woke up groggy and moody for the rest of the day.
So I read into the subject and found plenty of evidence for potential health benefits, energy boosting and productivity. Of course siestas are still very much part of culture in large parts of the world.
I spoke to a few people about it and discovered that several people whom I know personally, highly successful people, who either own their own business or who are very senior in large companies, nap almost every day. I know one person who closes the door of his office after lunch for 20 minutes most days and another who can often be found power-napping in Motorway service areas! These extremely busy people obviously are aware that if they take a 20 minute nap, it is more than compensated for by improved productivity later in the day.
So I decided to experiment on myself (not very scientific, I know) to see if I could ?train? myself to nap on demand and not feel groggy when I woke up, and if so, would I feel better for it?
I did this by ?forcing? myself to go to bed or nap somewhere on as many afternoons as possible by organising my diary to leave a 2 hour space. This was easiest at the weekends as Lucia (my 2 year old daughter) often still sleeps for 2-3 hours ? a habit I?m trying to preserve for as long as possible!
The first day I didn?t actually drop off to sleep, so I just had a rest. Day 2 I dropped off, but only for about 15 minutes before my alarm went off ? and then felt terrible for the rest of the day!
To cut a long story short, over a period of just a couple of weeks I was able to fall asleep more quickly and initially sleep for longer ? sometimes almost a full 2 hours.
Subsequently the time it took to fall asleep continued to come down to under a couple of minutes, and the time I was sleeping for gradually reduced until it was less than 30 minutes. By this point I was waking up refreshed every time. I was also noticeably more productive and energetic for the rest of the day and my mood (I think) was OK.
Many people also have a concern that if they nap they won?t be able to sleep at night. I took a little while longer to go to sleep at night on a couple of occasions. Maybe problems getting to sleep after napping could be due to an adjustment period so it may pass. Or it could be due to believing that will happen or worrying that it may happen.
I continue to take naps regularly when I feel like it and/or can make the opportunity.
It?s probably not for everyone, but you won?t know until you try.