By Maxwell Modell
Our bodies and our minds are connected. Push one too far and the other will break. Enter stage left your head’s best friend, napping.
Ever lengthening work hours, a new culture of virtual visibility and an “always available” mindset have polluted our lives, our evenings and our bedtimes. The pressure of constant family commitments and our ever-present coronavirus stress has paralyzed our lives, leaving us feeling anxious, stressed, worried, sad, bored, lonely or just frustrated. With all this going on, it can be a struggle to get our recommended 8 hours of sleep.
It has become the norm to cope with this burden by powering through the day with an extra cup of coffee. Today, the UK drinks approximately 95 million cups of coffee per day and supports an energy drink industry worth over £2 billion. All too easily we dismiss the impact this can have on our mental health. A 2005 study noted that excessive caffeine consumption can lead to symptoms similar to psychiatric conditions including anxiety and sleep disorders – sparking a dangerous cycle wherein sleep problems are remedied with something which causes sleep problems – increasing hostility, coffee jitters, and psychotic symptoms.
Mathew Walker sums up this social epidemic perfectly in his seminal book Why We Sleep. “No one wants to give up time with their family or entertainment, so they give up sleep instead. And anxiety plays a part. We’re a lonelier, more depressed society. Alcohol and caffeine are more widely available. All these are the enemies of sleep.” This suggests we are missing a trick by ignoring the fundamental importance of sleep to our self-care and we should start prescribing rest to those who suffer from mental health problems.
Having a nap in the day is proven to help alleviate stress and anxiety, help maintain a more positive and rational outlook, improve your mood, make you more tolerant towards others, reduce feelings of frustration and irritability, improve conversations and your ability to listen, and make you more open to feedback.
Science is all good and well, but one thing which you can’t really measure is the universal truth that napping feels great.
Be Kind To Your Mind and have a nap – it’s free, quick (5-20 minutes), immediately available, and you already know how to do it!