Unbeknownst to me, 19 years ago a day was designated to celebrate napping. I have always known napping to be commonplace among growing babies, retirees, and man’s best friend. We have a labradoodle named Zeke – he ensures my spouse Larry and I never forget how to appropriately nap through repeatedly setting the example multiple times a day. The other day while checking my Twitter newsfeed, I noticed #NationalNappingDay was trending. It may have trended higher than #MondayMotivation which usually sits atop the “Trend for You” list on Mondays in the Washington D.C. Metro Area. Naturally I was curious, prompting my exploring the hashtag and tweeting thoughts of my own.
Originating from William Anthony Ph.D. – a Boston University professor and director of the University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences – and his wife Camille Anthony, National Napping Day was created in 1999. The couple sought to elevate the growing acceptance of health benefits associated with getting adequate sleep. “We chose this particular Monday because Americans are more ‘nap-ready’ than usual after losing an hour of sleep to daylight savings time,” says Dr. Anthony. He also stated, “our goal is to show America that napping is ‘no pain with great gain’.”
In addition to my sending tweets about napping, I dug deeper to learn more. Admittedly, I have (mis)-categorized adult napping as a pastime for the lazy (at the very least) and those among us with a more nocturnal inclination (at best). I held the lazy belief as more of a motivator to be as productive as possible and less as a foul attempt to impugn one’s character.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are three types of naps. Three types? I only thought there was the unconscious, fast asleep type. Who would have known?
Planned Napping – also called preparatory napping – involves napping before feeling the urge to snooze. People may use this technique when planning to hit the sack later than usual or to stave off tiredness that may arise after one’s normal bedtime has passed.
Emergency Napping – arises when one suddenly feels very tired and cannot continue with whatever (s)he is currently doing. People turn to type of napping to alleviate drowsy before using heavy machinery, as preparation for long road trips, or to regroup after hours of intense yard work, among other reasons. Think of Thanksgiving dinner. After fellowshipping over the iconic American meal, many of us sleepily watch football or simply fall into a deep slumber on the couch – the latter of which cannot continue consciousness.
Habitual Napping – is practiced at the same time each day. Zeke habitually naps. Young children do as well; I have memories of napping in kindergarten every afternoon following lunch. Some even refer to habitually napping as the -itis, an almost certain phase of insurmountable drowsiness resulting from consuming a routine meal such as lunch or dinner. The -itis also may result from enjoying delicious, fat-and-sugar-laden meals such as those served on Easter Sunday or Christmas Day.
I have taken more emergency naps than the other two. I avoid napping because they almost always negatively affect my sleeping patterns. Napping starts an unfortunate cascading effect – pushing my bedtime to a later time, making it more difficult to wake up the next morning, which almost always sets a glacial and groggy tone for the day. This situation usually necessitates another nap which perpetuates the cycle.
As an intervention, I drink a 5-Hour energy drink – a neurotoxin I seldom imbibe yet clears my “life is about tradeoffs” mantra – helping break the need-to-nap cycle. On the flip side, I will periodically take a nap on weekends as long as it is completed before 1:00 p.m. I suppose this would be planned napping versus emergency or habitual. The nap usually lasts 30 minutes or less – a duration the National Sleep Foundation recommends not exceeding. Napping beyond 30 minutes could lead to sleep inertia which refers to the period of grogginess that sometimes follows sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation also offers many benefits of napping, including:
- Enhancing performance and reducing mistakes and accidents.
- Restoring overall alertness, specifically increasing alertness in the period directly following the nap and extending alertness a few hours later in the day.
- Offering therapy for those with narcolepsy.
- Being relaxing and rejuvenating.
Noticing #NationalNappingDay on Twitter yesterday (Monday, March 12, 2018) confirmed the adage you learn something new every day. I have heard of the benefits associated with napping prior to my newfound appreciation yet did not entirely heed them. Not fulling embracing planned and habitually napping had more to do with avoiding sleep inertia, a new term I learned to describe a familiar phenomenon I loathe. Lastly, my top goal remains achieving longer and higher quality sleep at night which lessens the need to take daytime naps. This stance may shift as I get older – some consider it a guarantee.