As much as my health has improved in the last year, I still have slow days, exhausted days, days where I drag myself around trying to live up to my obligations and expectations of myself. When they happen, I grit my teeth, back pedal, jettison the non-essential tasks and prioritize. I still have to fight my way through the day and often wonder what I can do to feel better.
The answer is obvious to anyone with half a brain.
Extremely tired? Take a nap.
Only I hate naps. Here’s why.
1) I hate what needing a nap means. It means that I’ve either over-extended myself (with too much work, not enough sleep, or both) or that I’m getting old. Either way, not the happiest news (although getting old does beat the alternative). Of course, what it really means is that I’m human. Getting enough rest is part of taking care of myself. Dammit.
2) I hate giving up the time. It’s bad enough I have to sleep through the night, but to sleep during the day seems like a crime. I have so many things I want to do — stories to write, quilts to make, new things to learn — and I’m not getting any younger (see number 1). I only have so much time and it seems like a waste to sleep it away.
3) I’m bad at napping. I can lie awake, head spinning with worries despite all the relaxation techniques I apply, for the entire time I’ve allotted for the nap. Or if I do sleep, it’s a druggy unreal sort of sleep that leaves me groggy and disoriented for a long time after I get up again. It hardly seems worth the effort. Very occasionally I will just sleep and wake up feeling better afterwards. If I could trust myself to do this more often, I would be more willing to give naps a try.
4) The more I need a nap, the less likely I am to take one. This is the ironic kicker of the entire situation. When my fatigue is so great I actually catch myself thinking “I need a nap”, my cranky Inner Toddler comes out and throws a major tantrum. She looks at all the fun things on the to-do list for the day, the very things I have already abandoned trying to make my day more manageable, and she screams. Usually this leads to compromise. Instead of napping, I do something restful that my Inner Toddler considers fun, like easy knitting or mindless sewing, that will also help me to feel at least a little better. But I know in my heart a real nap would be best.
Clearly, I have some evolving to do. I need to find a better way to sooth that Inner Toddler and all the other voices (Inner Perfectionist, I’m looking at you), that kick in on my exhausted days so that I can make a rational, adult choice to nap. Better to take care of myself in an effective way than to rage again the need for rest.
How about you? Are you a nap fan or a nap hater? Are naps unnecessary or a critical part of your usual day? For those who love to nap, please share your napping tips. I wouldn’t mind getting better at this.