Thursday, 10 March 2016

Happy International Nap Day!

Sammy enjoying one of his many daily naps
Happy International Nap Day!

As someone with Pulmonary Hypertension I know how valuable a good nights rest and cat nap can be. I couldn't resist the opportunity to write about the benefits of napping for this special occasion.

I come from a family of troubled sleepers. Getting a good night's rest is something that I have struggled with since my youth. Throwing a sleepless night on top of dealing a chronic condition can feel like the ultimate recipe for disaster. A lot of people with conditions like Pulmonary Hypertension can tire easily because of all the extra work their body is doing to function. Having lower than normal oxygen levels can also be very tiring on the body. I know that when I don't have a good nights sleep I usually have a harder time functioning the next day. Sometimes it feels like I have a flare up of symptoms as well. Other times I can get a great night's sleep and still feel tired.

Along with struggling to get a good night's sleep, I have always tried to avoid naps. When I was younger my mom would try to encourage me to take a nap. I would always say that I didn't need one and try to wiggle my way out of it. My mom, being the smart lady that she is, said that if I didn't fall asleep after resting for 10 minutes that I was allowed to get up. This trick always worked, and I always ended up napping despite believing I didn't need one. This has been a habit that I have recently adopted again as an adult. I will often lay myself down for 10 to 15 minutes. If i don't fall asleep, at least I rested and relaxed. Making time to rest and relax and something precious that has been lost in our society. We often think that if we make time to surf the web or watch TV that we are making time to relax and rest, when that simply isn't the case.

Sometimes I feel like a need a good nap after having a big night the day before. I am always sure to set a timer because napping for too long can actually make you feel worse. The sweet spot for napping is 45 minutes or less. If you nap for more than 45 minutes you might end up feeling more tired. I enjoy 20 minute cat naps because they leave me feeling recharged. Power naps are great if you just need a little rest. It will leave you feeling refreshed (and in a better mood if you are like me and get reeeallllyyy cranky if you are tired!) If you decide that you need a 45 minute nap, you will benefit from going into REM sleep which can aid with creativity.
Casper has created 'Napping 101' to tell you more about the benefits of napping, and how to achieve the perfect nap. I tried to avoid napping after diagnosis. I didn't want to admit that I was tired or that I needed extra sleep, mostly because I didn't want to seem "sick." I felt ashamed of needing naps in my 20's. I have learned though that napping is for people of all ages and abilities. My boyfriend (who is younger than me) naps after playing hockey or having a late Saturday night. Napping is for everyone, regardless of their health situation. In fact, our bodies are designed to want to nap because human survival depended on alertness.

The benefits from napping range from an increase in productivity, to reducing stress and anxiety. The best times for napping are between 1 and 3 p.m. Avoiding napping after 4 p.m as napping too late in the day or evening can interfere with your regular sleep time. Make sure your nap area is a comfy cave with a comfy mattress. I always change into comfy clothes, hop into bed with my teddy bear, eye mask and of supplementary oxygen! If you don't have an eye mask, I would recommend one for napping as it can help block out the sunlight. I also use my eye mask at night. I find it works as a "horse blinder" and encourages me to sleep. As I mentioned in a previous post, a bit of Badger Balm Sleep Balm hits the spot as well! The Sleep Balm has lavender and bergamot oil in it which is super soothing when trying to wind down to sleep.

Please see the Caper 'Napping 101' image below to learn more about the benefits of napping, along some helpful tips on how to become a napping expert!

Happy International Nap Day! Do you have any favorite napping habits? Share in the comments below!