There really is a science to sleep - naps included. Even a quick Google search can tell you that. There are accounts on Instagram dedicated to sharing the benefits of naps... for grown men and women. And, even child sleep specialists have been know to recommend the exact same behaviors for adults as they do for infants and children.
As professional women and/or mothers, we often take on more than we can chew. Or, we just keep chewing at the expense of ourselves. Here's an inside look at how one of our own has navigated staying sane with sleep.
How did naps make their way into your (almost) everyday routine?
I thought I was prepared for the birth of my first. I had over-researched, prepped and then prepped again (mentally, at least). But as you know, unexpected things happen. Physically, you’re never the same - and my body took a hit (I’m sure I’ll share that another time). Mentally, I suffered PPA/PPD and no longer felt myself. Of course, for the newborn months, naps were a necessity because 2 hour chunks at night don’t positively affect anyone.
2 years later, even after involuntarily becoming a SAHM due to Covid, I still mentally struggle with the idea of managing everything - myself, my child, the job hunt, my home, my relationship with my husband. I’m one of those people that takes everything on at the detriment of my sanity, even though I keep it together outwardly.
Napping when my son naps, even at 2 years old, gives me the peace of mind to just pause, reset, and refocus on what I actually need to do. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment you feel like you’re going to lose it. That “down time” at noon, even if I don’t actually sleep, just helps.
Power naps or full on sleep?
I’ve never been a power napper. My mind is constantly running, so sometimes it takes me an hour or more to actually fall asleep. If I can focus, I’ll meditate or just pay attention to my breathing or cancel out my thoughts. I’ve read that some people can take a 15 minute power nap and be golden the rest of the day. I always regret not giving myself the time that I know I need to actually reset. So, I’m not sure if my sleep solution is either power nap or full on sleep - but you can bet I take at least an hour for that almost daily pause.
You’ve managed to incorporate sleep into your daytime routine. Have you mastered the overnight stretch?
No. Maybe this is partially why I’ve adopted naps! First of all, right now I’m almost 6 months pregnant. So sleeping at night is really tough. Rotating from the left to right sides, hip pressure pain and having to pee seems to get me less hours than those newborn days referenced above! I’ve never been a morning person either - so a toddler who wakes up consistently around 6:30AM is tough (thank you husband for taking morning duty through this pregnancy).
I have become more conscious of the need for my own routine. Right now, it involves an audio book starting no later than 9PM and I’m usually asleep by 10PM. Sometimes I’ll get into bed at 8PM just to decompress, especially if dinner and bedtime was exceptionally taxing. I haven’t managed to adhere to the no devices before bedtime thing - I can go down that Instagram or Pinterest rabbit hole real quick and before I know it, it’s 11PM.
What advice would you give to others regarding their own sleep?
Obviously, I’m not an expert. But, I do believe that making time for yourself, even if it’s 30 minutes. Do I think adults need 8 hrs of solid sleep? Yes - I can only dream of having that success. Does everyone need a nap? Nah - but if you’re feeling drained and not sure why, give it a go.
I recently told a close friend about my nap strategy. I loved her response, “I’ve been thinking about this and today decided to incorporate rest into my routine. Even if I snag 20 minutes closed eyes it feels like an acknowledgement of me and what I’ve gone through to have a baby x 2. Thanks for making me reevaluate what this self care means.”
I’ve learned that sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest difference. This does, for me.