Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.Barbara Jordan
You got up early and got a great start to the day. Since then, the day has been trucking along with productivity, getting work completed and attending the various meetings that are required.
Throughout it all you’ve been a trooper–and even made it through lunch without much trouble! But now, time is creeping into the late afternoon, and you’re just out of energy.
What do you do? You take a nap, of course!
Even though naps can be extremely beneficial, they seem to be under-utilized by those who are over 6 years old. While some modern cultures incorporate a nap into their day, many do not.
National Napping Day encourages people all over the world to remember these benefits of youth and take a little time out of the day for a much needed rest!
History of National Napping Day
This history of napping comes as an age old tradition. In fact, in certain cultures, napping was something that almost everyone would tend to do in the middle of the afternoon. The siesta continues to present itself as a time-honored tradition in Spain that happens right after the afternoon meal and has been a practice basically since time began.
In fact, for those who are in the Mediterranean, napping is pretty much standard everywhere people go. In Italy naps are called the riposo, pisolini, literally meaning “rest naps”.
Even old Charlamagne (also known as Charles the Great, the 8th century medieval emperor in Europe) has been recorded as having taken 2-3 hour naps in the middle of the afternoon.
So is it just laziness? Not at all! It’s just a different way of living.
In part, the need for the nap can be directly related to these hottest hours of the day in the middle of the afternoon. Especially prior to central air conditioning, it only made sense to take a brief break at that point. It may also have to do with the circadian rhythms and the change-over point between the wake cycle and sleep cycle, there’s a time in the middle of the afternoon that is essentially perfect for a nap.
Many health professionals and researchers have written about the notable benefits of taking a nap in the afternoon. In fact, some evidence points to a 37% reduction in occurrences of coronary mortality in those who take an afternoon nap regularly.
Does that mean those who take naps might literally be saving their own lives? It’s quite possible!
How to Celebrate National Napping Day
Well, the way to celebrate National Napping Day is pretty simple isn’t it? Just take a little time in the afternoon (whenever afternoon is to rest. Whether it’s a 20 minute power nap on the sofa or a two-hour, get-under-the-covers nap, take some time to fill up the energy tank again.
After the afternoon meal is the perfect time because the body is spending a lot of energy digesting food. In the long-run, a nap can help a person feel better and more energized for the day ahead. It may be tricky for those who have a regular work schedule, but whenever the opportunity presents itself…take a nap!
In addition to catching a few z’s in the middle of the day, celebrating National Napping Day also offers a few other opportunities, including:
Get Inspired By Famous Nappers
Some famous and brilliant people were known for taking naps, such as:
- Salvador Dali. This eccentric artist from Spain worked hard to invent the micro-nap. He would intentionally fall asleep sitting up, with a large key in his hand which was poised over a metal plate or bowl. As he fell asleep, the key would fall and make noise, waking him up to get to work again–feeling much restored and revived.
- Eleanor Roosevelt. The wife of the 32nd president of the United States would often take a short nap before she was to give a public speech, which gave her a little energy boost to greet her adoring crowds.
- Napoleon Buonaparte. As a military genius, Napoleon was known for going long periods without sleeping and then simply falling asleep at will, even in the middle of the battlefield.
- Leonardo Da Vinci. This famous artist went so far as to replace his normal sleep and, instead, taking a 15 minute nap every 4 hours, which is now called “polyphasic sleeping”.
- Margaret Thatcher. With the nickname “The Iron Lady”, it’s no surprise that this British Prime Minister only slept for 4 hours each night. However, she was known to regularly schedule a 1 hour nap in the afternoon.
Have a Relaxation Session
For those who aren’t necessarily able to fall asleep in the afternoon, that’s not necessarily a negative thing. It probably just means their bodies get enough sleep at night on a regular basis. Even so, a little rest in the afternoon is a good idea as the brain and body can still benefit, even if there’s no actual sleep.
In lieu of a nap, it can be beneficial to spend a few minutes practicing mindfulness exercises or meditation. Spend some time on deep breathing exercises, go through a body scan to notice which points might be responding to stress, listen to some relaxing music, and simply take a few minutes just to get refreshed before entering back into the busy world again!