People might think i’m a bit of a funny old chap (for many reasons), who loves his relaxation as well as exercise. At the top of this list would be my advocation of a delightful little activity known as napping. Not only my love of napping, but my ability to get others to implement naps in their lives and relax. I never used to nap when i was younger; running around forests and climbing trees, this is a skill i have perfected and honed over many years. My opinion was probably similar to most people’s when first starting in that if i slept in the afternoon i wouldn’t sleep properly at night. This however, for me, has never been a problem. It’s a chance to recharge, relax, de-stress and enjoy some peace and quiet. Whenever i can i always make time for an afternoon nap and the effects are clearly evident – in previous years i have been told i still have a year’s annual leave entitlement left from work as it’s nearing completion, purely because i always make time to relax most days and never get to the stage of ‘desperately needing a holiday’.
The benefits of napping have been widely documented: a BBC report into a Greek study found “that those who took a 30-minute siesta at least 3 times a week had a 37% lower risk of heart-related death.”
An article from SportsMedicine: “Most athletes know that getting enough rest after exercise is essential to high-level performance, but many still over train and feel guilty when they take a day off. The body repairs and strengthens itself in the time between workouts, and continuous training can actually weaken the strongest athletes.”
A study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that “a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%.”
Not too shabby, considering the general stigma towards napping can be that of a person being lazy, lacking in ambition and producing low standards.
It’s also widely accepted that prior napping has positive effects on altertness and performance while driving (minimalising tiredness whilst driving) and also on those doing shift work. One important factor to bear in mind with all of this is that people shouldn’t reduce the amount of physical activity they do during the rest of the day due to napping. In my opinion if you are training hard then you deserve a rest too.
So here’s my advice – If you’re going to nap you must do it properly. None of this falling asleep on the sofa; get into bed, draw the curtains and make some time for some proper rest and relaxation. Maybe even push the boat out and have some incense or a heated blanket for extra comfort.
This all works towards one of my main philosophies – to simply be happy, chilled out and not stress over little things. Exercise and rest.
“I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything till noon. That’s when it’s time for my nap.” – Bob Hope