Adding Naps to My Daily Routine
I have been a napper from as far back as I can remember. My mom has told me I would always fall asleep in my car seat as soon as we started driving. During middle and high school, I would nap as soon as I got home from school.
Even into my adult years, I still am a firm believer in the importance of napping. If you haven't already check out my article about the benefits of napping.
Varied opinions on napping
Some people shut down the idea of taking naps before giving them a try. A few of the reasons I've heard before are, "I just don't have the time for napping." Or, "What's the use in napping if I don't even fall asleep?" Even my nightshift partner thinks napping is for children.
My view on naps
My response to the first question is always the same. You will always make time for something that is important to you. For some people, this is having a cup of coffee in the morning or taking a bath before bed. Napping is one of those things that I have learned to make time for.
When it comes to the issue of not having enough time to fall asleep, this can be tricky. More often than not, I don't have a full hour or even 30 minutes. This used to give me anxiety when planning to squeeze in a quick nap. I have since changed my mindset. I view this as my "resting time."
If I sleep, great! If I don't, that is perfectly fine. Sometimes I lie down and listen to an audiobook. Guided meditations have become a lifesaver when I only have a few minutes.
Scheduling my naps
Once I was diagnosed with narcolepsy in 2018, my doctor told me that taking daytime naps would significantly improve my excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS). After trying to work through the school day without naps, I decided to take my doctor's advice and try to work in naps.
During my lunch break, I would hang up a "Come Back in 30 Minutes" sign, shut the door, and turn off the lights. I would lie behind my desk, take deep breaths, and listen to a guided meditation. Even if only for 10 minutes, this significantly improved my wakefulness and helped push me through the school day.
During the beginning of the pandemic, when I was forced to teach from home, it was difficult to change this routine. Suddenly I didn't need to wake up as early to get to work. I wasn't required to work as long hours as I had been. It took some time to re-adjust, but I still gave myself time away from my computer and rested my brain.
Keeping my routine when I went back to college
Prior to returning to college, I was worried that my schedule wouldn't allow my daily naps. My undergraduate years were non-stop from morning until night. From classes and rehearsals to homework and clubs, it is a miracle I survived those 4 years. At that point in my life, I still had no idea what narcolepsy was, let alone having the diagnosis myself.
When the idea of returning to college became more realistic, I knew I couldn't do that to myself again. I made it a priority to keep this daily routine, even if that meant I had to lighten my course load.
I will never give up my naps
Luckily I was able to schedule my classes and job to accommodate for this time. On busier days when I don't have the opportunity to drive home and rest, I keep a small pillow in my car and lay my seat back. As silly as it may seem, having the ability to be horizontal and close my eyes has become crucial to my daily routine. Even my professors have commented on how much more alert I am than during my undergraduate years.
This time of rest helps my excessive daytime sleepiness, brain fog, and energy levels. No matter what the future brings, I will never give up my afternoon siesta.
How often do you experience automatic behavior?