"Taking a nap is like being wrapped in a hug from the heavens."
The first months of motherhood can be challenging in so many ways: it’s emotional, it’s 24/7, there’s so much to learn so fast, and it’s a whole new responsibility that you just can’t imagine until you’re really in it…
And then BAM!
A wave of tiredness smacks you right in the face and knocks you to the ground, because your body just realized that it hasn’t slept for a full night in weeks. Maybe even months.
It does sound a little bit dramatic… but it’s no big secret that early motherhood and sleep deprivation go begrudgingly hand in hand.
And while we know it can’t be helped – baby’s got to eat, cry and get back to sleep, right? – mum’s got to get some sleep, too.
Why do I need to nap?
The answer is simple...
The mothers who stay particularly healthy postpartum are the ones who allow themselves to sleep as much as they feel necessary. Most say that they took two- to three-hour naps every day for the first six months of their babies' lives.
They didn't jump up to clean house or cook or pay bills when baby fell asleep. When their babies slept, they slept. Another perk: Those naps provided for bonding with their babies.
Sleep also allows the brain to restore its supply of neurotransmitters that allow the cells of the nervous system to communicate with one another and with the rest of the systems of the body.
How long should my nap be?
Within the first 20-30 minutes, you pass through the first 2 phases of light sleep.
This is what you should aim for if you're looking for a power nap: 20-30 minutes max!
When you wake up during one of these phases, studies have shown that your cognitive function, memory, productivity and creativity have been improved.
It will also decrease the sugar cravings that tired people tend to have, and 3 power naps a week can even decrease your risk for a stroke about 37% !
Overall, you will feel refreshed and less tired when waking up from a power nap.
Scientists from Australia have even found that a power nap of only 10 minutes already showed all the benefits of a 30 minute nap - but without any risk of waking up groggy!
If your naps surpasses 30 minutes, you will wake up feeling groggy and wanting to go back to sleep immediately.
This is because your blood pressure lowers in phases of deep sleep, and your body gets interrupted from a state of total relaxation.
Researchers have also found that the body goes through all 4 sleep stages in about 90 minutes - so if you take a nap for 90 minutes, you might also wake up feeling more refreshed than groggy.
But this time varies from person to person, so it will probably be better to stick to the 30 minute power naps if you depend on an efficient nap.
If you really need to re-energize, here is the ultimate tip:
Drink some coffee and then nap for about 20 minutes. When you wake up, the caffeine is just about to kick in, and you'll have a DOUBLE boost of energy.
How to start nap routine?
1. Use a timer
A power nap goes past the point of usefulness if it lasts longer than 20-30 minutes. If you can sleep a bit longer you might not need a timer, but if you’d sleep for hours then it’d likely become counterproductive for you.
2. Keep your kid busy
Give your children something quiet to do while you take your power nap. It used to be that I could only take a nap if my spouse was home because my son was so young. Now, he’s at the glorious stage of being able to entertain himself with toys, cartoons, or games on the iPad. Yes, I am not above technology aiding my sleep.
3. Have a clear mind
Only focus on resting your body. Don’t stress yourself out thinking “I have to fall asleep … I have to fall asleep!” because that is counterproductive. You aren’t resting if you’re stressing yourself out. I like to imagine what a yoga instructor would say — focus on your breathing and think of something peaceful. Even if you don’t fall asleep, you’re still doing your body a favor by lying down, being still, and giving yourself a chance to slow down.
and last, BE CONSISTENT. Do it everyday!
"When the going gets tough, the tough get going."