|Do you know what these are? I didn’t…
Twas midafternoon, when all through the workplace
All energy was gone, without a trace;
The salads had been eaten at lunchtime with care,
In hopes that weight loss soon would be there;
Morning motivation now replaced with dread,
And visions of sugar danced in everyone’s head.
On our new client paperwork, one questions asks “what’s is your worst time of day for overeating?” It’s no surprise that 3:00pm and 4:00pm are the most common answers (and yes, after dinner is a close runner-up). Mid-afternoon our blood sugar drops after lunch and our morning caffeine has almost run its course. The cravings begin. For some it’s sweet, others salty and people start to hunt for something to satisfy themselves. What’s going to do the trick? Maybe it’s something without calories or sugar or salt. Maybe what you really need is a nap.
The sleep/weight connection is a strong one and I’ve talked about electronic curfews and sleep hygiene before. The less sleep you get the greater your appetite and the stronger your carb cravings will be. But it’s not just nighttime, a 20-30 minute nap can improve alertness, mood and performance (too long can leave you groggy). Napping can also lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke and isn’t reserved for the stroller set or seniors. Our biological clocks or our “circadian rhythms,” are actually programmed for long sleep during the night and short sleep during the day. So what we mistake for hunger in the afternoon hours may actually be a need for sleep. According to the sleep foundation nappers are in good company: John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush are known to have valued an afternoon nap. Though I am unsure about Napoleon (short but not sure of weight), none of these men were heavy.
Some studies have shown that just relaxing can help so don’t be discouraged if there’s no bed in sight, though beds are best. I first learned the value of napping as a new mom; these weren’t planned naps but what is referred to as “emergency napping”. I now see an afternoon nap as a treat and on the days I have early clients will lie down for 15-20 minutes before I start to write or return emails in the afternoon. I also put my head down on my desk for a few minutes when I’m at work to disconnect and unwind.
These are nap facts from Sara Mednick assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life Make it quick.
- Set your cell phone alarm for 30 minutes or less if you don’t want to wake up groggy. (I read a tip elsewhere to have some tea or coffee pre nap, it kicks in just at the time your nap is over)
- Go dark. Nap in a dark room or wear an eye mask. Blocking out light helps you fall asleep faster.
- Stay warm. Stash a blanket nearby to put over you because your body temperature drops while you snooze.
Here is a list of all the things napping can do for you:
Increase your alertness.
Speed up your motor performance.
Improve your accuracy.
Make better decisions.
Improve your perception.
Improve performance at work.
Preserve your youthful looks.
Improve your sex life.
Reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Reduce your risk of diabetes.
Improve your stamina.
Elevate your mood.
Boost your creativity.
Help your memory.
Reduce dependence on drugs/alcohol.
Alleviate migraines, ulcers, and other problems with psychological components.
Improve the ease and quality of your nocturnal sleep.
And the cookie? It just makes you look like St Nick and…
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed like a bowl full of jelly.
Are you a napper? How long do you usually sleep? Did you guess what was in the photo at the top? (Hint in the poem)