Napping is a delightful luxury for taking a break from our routine and getting in a short nap or rest. With the fast pace of the modern world and the ever-increasing demands on our time, napping is becoming something only available for seniors and children of society. Many believe that taking the time for napping will outweigh the time lost from work, as you will be more dynamic and clear to continue.
Napping is not deep sleep but rather a short, usually 20-30 minute, period of time. Many believe this deep relaxation is more valuable than deep sleep. Often people will go into the alpha state or a meditative state of deep rest while maintaining some level of wakefulness. People that experience this alpha state regularly will increase their creativity and expand their thought processes. Sir Winston Churchill coined the phrase "power naps."
Traditionally, naps are taken after the midday meal, between 12:00 noon and 3:00pm (1200 and 1500 hours). Every culture around the world recognizes napping. Napping is also known as bhat-ghum, catnaps, mittagsschlaf, wushui, xiuxi, with siesta being the most recognizable. Siesta is Latin for “the sixth hour,” referring to midday rest.
Many countries have adopted the siesta because of the extreme heat in their region and consider it more productive to allow workers to take a midday break from work and resume in the cooler afternoon. In farming countries, a midday break is customary because of their early and late work schedules. Some countries like France and Japan, offer special areas in the workplace set up as napping rooms, while people in countries like Spain would prefer taking their siesta in the comfort of their own homes.
There are a variety of reasons it is believed that napping is fundamental to humans. Some believe the circadian rhythms dictate peaks and dips in the waking state. After a large noon day meal is a perfect time to honor that tendency because degestion will create drowsiness. However, research has discovered that even without the large meal, the tendency for napping in mid afternoon occurs.
In the ayurvedic system, afternoon sleeping is discouraged. It is believed that drowsiness is the result of overeating, and that instead of sleeping, one should take a short, comfortable walk in order to digest your food properly. They believe midday is pitta time and the mental activity is at its highest efficiency. It is believed that the most dynamic productivity can be achieved at this time if the body is balanced and alert. If napping is permitted, ayurvedic tradition dictates that it will cause dullness and digestive imbalances.
Conditions such as poor health or sleep apnea can bring on sudden drowsiness during the afternoon. When the night's sleeping cycles are frequently interrupted and deep sleep or rapid eye movement-dream (REM) sleep is disturbed, an afternoon nap will be required to rejuvenate the system.
Most doctors and health professionals recommend a short break after the midday meal to digest. They also say the most important factor is maintaining a healthy lifestyle, coupled with a regular sleep cycles. If you follow these guidelines and maintain an awareness of your body's needs, you can depend on and honor its natural requests for sleep.