Sleep. One of the six things you must have to live. And yet, how many of us make it a priority in our life to get the sleep we need to enjoy life?
In an industrialized, technology driven world, sleeping enough is a challenge. Not so in a less developed country where the day begins with sunrise and ends at dusk. No power, no action. But, our lives no longer end at dusk.
We are a sleep deprived nation. During a lecture I gave in Houston in 2005, I asked the audience, "How many of you feel tired nearly every day? Just raise your hand if you do." And, hands flew up all over the room. "Ok, so, keep your hands up. Now, how many you sleep less than 6 hours per night - on average? If you do, just leave your hands in the air." And, maybe one or two hands came down. An informal poll, sure, but I'll bet this is close to reality for a lot of people.
Some of us don't sleep well because we can't turn off our busy, active minds. When the lights go out, our minds become a canopy of thoughts and we swing from branch to branch. For some, it's because we hurt, physically or emotionally, and we carry that pain to bed and wrestle with it all night long. For others, it may be a medical condition such as sleep apnea that rubs out the sleep. And, some try to convince themselves they don't need much sleep (and quickly nod off in the midst of an exceptionally boring church sermon).
Inadequate or poor quality sleep leaves you cranky, irritable, forgetful, and easily distracted - what I call Grumpitis. Whatever the cause, if you are not sleeping enough and suffer from grumpitis, most experts agree, a nap is the cure. According to Max Hirshkowitz, Director of the Sleep Center at Houston's Michael E. Debakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center, you and I are hard-wired to nap in the early to mid-afternoon. I don't know about you but when I began investigating the idea of napping, I suddenly felt old. The only people I knew that took naps were frail, and old. Turns out I just didn't have a very big sample size to draw such a conclusion. Bill Clinton, Winston Churchill, Leonardo DaVinci, Eleanor Roosevelt, all reportedly napped. That made me feel a little better.
So, I tried napping and found it to be very difficult. I felt guilty like I should be doing something more productive with my life than sleeping for 15-20 minutes in the afternoon. I couldn't get past it and every afternoon between 1 and 3PM, found myself feeling droopy, lazy, and well, tired. So, I would have a cup of java but that messed up my sleep at night which, in turn, made the need for a nap greater but I couldn't take a nap because of the strongly entrenched protestant work ethic.
What I needed was some way to turn off my hyper-active mind. Then, I found a very cool software application called PZIZZ. I know. How do you say the name? Is it PEE-Z-IZZ? Or, is it PAH-ZIZZ? I'm not sure. I just say PEE-ZIZZ. Anyway, this cute bundle of code was advertised as having some kind of magical formula to help you nap and sleep. PZIZZ is an audio file with music, sounds of the ocean, wind, and other nature sounds and a mesmerizing male voice, like in a Disney film, coaxing you to drift off to nappy's house.
It works. I put on a headset, got comfortable, and let the guilt take a hike (maybe I should try it in a bath tub - you know, "Calgon take me away"). I came out of a 15-20 minute nap feeling really good. You can set the nap length to whatever you want so, if you have an extra 10 minutes at lunch, you might give it a try.
I doubt most of us will ever sleep 8-9 hours every night and feel great every day but if you can slide a short nap into your day, you can feel like you slept 8 hours, and your body gets a much needed breather.
Kids need naps (or else they get grumpy).
Adults are big kids.
Adults need naps (so they'll be less grumpy).
Adieu- my warm mug of sleep is waiting.