Adult female laying in bed with a pillow, eye mask, stuffed animal, and phone playing relaxing sounds. There are labels pointing at each item. Sleep hygiene.

The Anatomy of the Nap

Over the years of living with insomnia, I've learned something very important – the anatomy of the nap.

Now, just as the tips or tricks that help us fall asleep or stay asleep at night vary from person to person, this might not work for everyone. But I've gotten it down to a pretty exact science for myself, so I thought it was worth sharing.

I don't schedule my naps

Now, this is one of the built-in luxuries of working from home on a flexible schedule. As long as I don't have a call or meeting, my day is only blocked loosely. So, if and when I feel a crushing sense of exhaustion coming my way, I can move things around and shift my plans so I can slot in some much-needed rest.

Not every attempt at a nap is successful

Today, for instance, I felt like my eyes were getting heavy while I was at my laptop, so I shut everything down and moved to my bedroom. I put everything into place for a good nap, and yet, I just didn't fall asleep.

At first, I felt annoyed as I lay on my pillow, thinking of all the things I could be working on if I wasn't snuggled up in bed, but then I found some peace, that even if I wasn't asleep, per se, I was, in fact, resting, which was still something my body needed.

I convinced myself to stay in bed for the amount of time I'd allocated for a nap, and while there was no sleeping completed, I did feel a bit refreshed and relaxed when I went back to work.

Routine is as important for nap as it is for bed

This is a really important one, friends. My body struggles to differentiate sleepy cues from routine exhaustion and therefore relies on a series of steps or a routine to wind down and enter slumberland. When it comes to a nap, here's what works for me:

  1. Change out of work clothes into pajamas. Now, you might wonder why, if I'm working from home and merely going from my office to my bedroom and back again, but for me, this is a state of mind thing. I try hard to only sleep in PJs – meaning when I'm in PJs, my body and mind relax, and there's no confusion when I'm dressed in other clothes (no matter how fancy or casual).
  2. I go to the restroom, put my hair up, and put on chapstick.
  3. I get into bed, plug in my phone, and turn on a meditation or sleep story from the Calm App. I also set an alarm to ensure that I get back up in a timely fashion and finish what's due by the end of the day.
  4. I ensure the fan is on in my bedroom, I grab my stuffed shark, and I put on my blackout eye mask.

Now, like I said, there are times I walk through all of the steps and don't actually fall asleep, but there are also times that I do, and that said nap helps me get through the rest of my workday and perhaps even prevents the need for me to go to sleep at 7:30 PM that night.

If you've worked on the anatomy of your nap (schedule, routine, logistics), I'd love to hear what has worked for you below!

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