Tips for napping?
January 4, 2013 7:36 AM   Subscribe

I have trouble taking naps in the middle of the afternoon, even though I feel that they would really benefit me. Can you help me with some tips?

I used to be able to sleep when I got home from University for half an hour before I'd make dinner and found it extremely beneficial. When I moved cities and joined the working world, that just vanished. I have transitioned from working in offices to working at home, so my schedule is wide open, but I can't quite get to sleep.

I make sure that I have an hour set aside, I set an alarm to wake me up in an hour, and I make sure the room is quiet and as dark as I can make it. No matter what position I lie down in, I can't fall asleep. My neighbor has taught me meditation techniques so I try to concentrate on my breathing or some other soothing idea, but the sleep never comes. Instead my mind races and I eventually while away my hour awake.

Some data:

I limit my caffeine intake to pre-lunch time. In University I drank coffee, as well, but the naps still happened.

My family members have no trouble napping.

I don't take any other drugs or medication.

I sleep well at night, except that I will wake up at the same time no matter what time I went to bed, and haven't been able to sleep in for years. Once I am up, I am up.

I don't typically have troubled dreams that I can remember.

I have a brand new bed that I find really comfortable, with good linens and pillows. My room is as quiet as can be. I've tried napping on the couch but it makes no difference.

I typically don't eat a heavy lunch. I'm not drowsy between 2 and 3 like a lot of people are.

I do have some problems with racing thoughts. I get frustrated that I'm not napping when I try to nap.

Does anyone have any advice on how I can get a nap? I really think it would improve my quality of life. Thanks!
posted by chrillsicka to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This is something that was mentioned in another sleeping thread that helped me; just laying down is 80% as restorative as real sleep.

I have no idea if it's true, but it feels true so I'm not looking for evidence to the contrary.

So basically, just have a lie down, even if it's not sleep.
posted by raccoon409 at 7:41 AM on January 4, 2013 [5 favorites]

Meditation sounds like a great idea, as it's meant to stop your racing mind. Maybe focus on meditating rather than trying to nap. If you're getting enough sleep at night, why is a nap necessary?
posted by three_red_balloons at 7:45 AM on January 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

I started a similar experiment a few years back - I wanted to take 20 minute power naps in the afternoons.

I set a timer for 20 minutes and laid down with my eyes closed.

At first I couldn't sleep, then I was awake for all but the last 6 minutes. These days I can usually fall asleep within about 2 minutes of closing my eyes. It probably took a couple months before I started sleeping, but, as raccoon409 says, just laying down with my eyes closed was great.
posted by jander03 at 7:47 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am an afternoon napper. I have no advice on technique because I simply lie down on a couch, put a baseball hat over my eyes and fall asleep. However, like raccoon409, even if I fail to fall asleep (and sometimes I am not sure honestly) just laying still and resting for an hour is a big help.

Maybe have a special napping couch? I never nap in my bed as I do not want to signal to me it is bed time. It is nap time. So, I have couch I rarely sit on otherwise that I use for my afternoon nap. My brain gets the message when I lie on it.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:47 AM on January 4, 2013

We interrupt this thread for a brief public service announcement:
Lie, lay, lain.

Also, you might try putting on a boring, soothing podcast, at a volume where you have to strain to make out what they're saying. This one works for me. The intro and outro music are just right, the beginning of it is boring as hell after you get over the novelty, and her voice is really soothing.
posted by HotToddy at 7:55 AM on January 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

I listen to this half hour guided meditation almost every time I lie down for a nap. Or lay myself down for a nap, as the case may be. It rarely fails me.

Your Present: A Half Hour of Peace by Susie Mantell
posted by bq at 8:01 AM on January 4, 2013

On the rare occasion that I can count on being uninterrupted by pets, phone calls, etc. I've found Pzizz Energizer to be helpful, if a little bit hokey (The basic idea is that it's relaxing-music-and-soothing-voice hypnotherapy audio, but shuffles the voice and music elements up each time to keep it novel) - unfortunately it looks like their original apps are in limbo right now but they're offering something called "Pzizz Lite", which might be worth investigating.
posted by usonian at 8:05 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's not going to be helpful if it's a source of stress or frustration.

Your sleep paterns change over time. I rarely sleep in (I consider an extra 30 minutes to be the ultimate luxurty) but I revel in waking early and not having to do anything or go anywhere on the weekends.

Find new things to do with this gift of time. Meditation is an awesome suggestion. Praying is another. Perhaps take the time to write in a journal, or read the classics, or do something that's relaxing and productive. Petit-point a set of seat cushions for your dining room chairs. Knit a sweater. Groom your pets.

Lots of folks take a walk or go to the gym. Perhaps you'll want to get into cooking elaborate meals.

As you get older and your family grows, you'll find that time is the one thing you can't buy or manufacture. Savor it now.

Sure, naps are awesome, but if it's just not happening, shift your expectations and use the time you have to your advantage.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:37 AM on January 4, 2013

I have had the same problem recently - it sucks! I recommend doing meditation/relaxation exercises instead. Even if they don't help you fall asleep, they're great for stress reduction. There are tons of podcasts free.
posted by radioamy at 8:47 AM on January 4, 2013

For racing thoughts, I connect to my breathing a "list" of things I say to myself. For instance, I name something beginning with the letter A on my first breath (deep inhale, letter A word on the exhale), inhale again, then list something with the letter B on exhale, then the letter C, etc. If I get to a letter where I can't come up with something to list, I simply exhale and let it come to me on the next breath. Sometimes I purposefully lengthen the list by restraining it to a certain type of thing (like trees, or first names, etc.). This keeps me "distractedly focused" away from racing thoughts a little longer than the first version.

For physical relaxation, try a couple rounds of Sun Salutation, or something likewise gently physically stretching, and then lie down.
posted by cocoagirl at 8:53 AM on January 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't stress about and freak out cause you're not napping, a ten mintute Just Resting My Eyes session is just as effective in restoring focus and can lead to actual napping. I know I worry that I'm 'wasting' nap time by being annoyingly conscious, which tenses me up, which makes it even harder to nod off. Don't use this time to this about what you have to do, use it focus on breathing or untensing your muscles or just idle daydream Funtime.
posted by The Whelk at 9:08 AM on January 4, 2013

You don't actually mention what makes you think you need to nap. Is it just because you used to? Sleep patterns change, and maybe your current schedule and activity level lets you get through the day without a nap. That's not a bad thing.

It's perfectly okay to just rest for a bit without falling asleep. Sometimes I'll lay down and set an alarm in case I fall asleep, but feel itching to go do something fifteen minutes later, so I get up. If you're sleeping fine at night, there's no reason a nap is required. If you really need a nap you won't have trouble falling asleep, you'd have trouble waking up.
posted by echo target at 10:08 AM on January 4, 2013

these help me:

RIGHT before getting into bed, warm my feet up by running them under hot water, and then
putting thick socks on.
running a floor fan in the room
1mg of melatonin (split up a 3 mg pill) - just a tiny "ding" off the cliff
a small glass of port
meditation breathing
keep meditating/ stay down even if i don't fall completely asleep
posted by mrmarley at 11:05 AM on January 4, 2013

« Older Won't you wear my ring around your neck? & other...   |   what am I doing wrong? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.