If you are lacking sleep a nap may just be what you need.
It’s National Napping Day today, the unofficial holiday celebrated annually the day right after the return of daylight savings time.
The idea is to give everyone a chance to catch up on some much needed rest after the clocks have sprung ahead.
Several studies show that even a 20 to 30 minute nap can have a positive effect on restoring mental alertness and cognitive ability.
National Napping Day traces its roots back to 1999 when William Anthony, Ph.D and his wife Camille Anthony, decided to create a holiday that would highlight the benefits of a quick nap.
So they decided to celebrate it the Monday after Daylight Savings Time, DST, because they felt that their fellow Americans were more ready for a nap after losing an hour of sleep.
Do You Need a Nap?
You might think, are naps really necessary?
Shouldn’t someone just go to bed earlier to get a better night’s rest?
Well, we don’t always sleep as well as we should. Maybe there has been extra stress, days are busy and full, there is a lot on your mind.
Naps can be taken almost anywhere so even a short nap in the car can make a difference in how someone copes in their daily life.
Facts About Naps
~Naps around 20-30 minutes are best for improved short term alertness
~Napping three times a week results in a 37% decrease in heart related deaths
~Naps can improve performance by 34%
~The ancient Romans used to take a nap right after lunch, maybe drowsy from their meal?
~Humans are the only mammals that plan or delay naps
~Just thinking about a nap can lower blood pressure
~Most mammals nap
Best Herbs for Naps
Herbs can help calm the nervous system and soothe the body to prepare for sleeping.
Some people respond better to one herb over another. Others find essential oils are effective. Essential oils can be used in the bath, as part of a massage or inhaled. For nap times, a nap pillow with herbs or a few drops of essential oils added as needed can make a big difference.
The most common herbs for better napping are chamomile, valerian, passion flower and lavender.
Chamomile is often taken as a tea though it can also be used as an essential oil. It can also be applied as a topical plant tincture or taken in tablet or capsule form. It helps relax muscles and relieve headaches.
Valerian is an herb that acts as a sedative to ease depression, headaches and can help with menstrual or stomach cramps. It can be drunk as a tea, often in combination with other herbs such as chamomile or lemon balm. Or it can be taken in capsule or tablet form.
Passionflower is an herb that has chemical compounds which provide a calming effect in the body which cause feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. It can help pain, anxiety, muscle spasms, inflammation and symptoms of menopause. A 2016 study showed that passionflower relieved sleep disorders when taken for four weeks. The herb can be taken as a tea or in capsule form.
Lavender is a popular herb that soothes the nervous system, relieves pain, headaches, improves circulation and alleviates respiratory problems. One of the best ways to use lavender is as an essential oil used in the bath, added to a diffuser or with a few drops added to a sleep pillow or scented bag. Lavender is one of the few herbs to use ‘neat’ or directly on the skin. But always do a patch test first to check for reactions.
So there you have it – the best way to take a nap. Now find a comfy spot, grab your favorite herbal tea, essential oil, a blanket and pillow. Drink your tea, sprinkle essential oil on your sleep pillow. Then put your head down, pull your blanket up and close your eyes. Ahhh. Doesn’t that feel good?