Chances are if you're reading this right now you've come to know that napping, like many other favored activities, has now gotten its own holiday. But unlike National Talk Like a Pirate Day or International Coffee Day, National Nap Day can be celebrated many different ways depending on who you are. For some, like small children, napping is seen as a chore. For others, napping is simply a part of everyday life. Spaniards like to call their midday naps "siestas," and this practice has deep cultural roots.
For the average American, however, naps are a less common occurrence. The emphasis in the USA is to maximize productivity at all times. This means there is little room for nap time. However, National Nap Day is an instance where you can literally "rest assured" that your nap is justified. It's not often that you have the opportunity to explore exactly what napping means to you. Here's your chance.
What Is National Nap Day
National Nap Day is an unofficial holiday that was first celebrated in 1999. It was the brainchild of William Anthony, Ph.D., a Boston University professor and his wife, Camille Anthony. They were on a mission to raise awareness about the positive benefits that sleep provides and thought that maybe establishing a day of awareness was the way to go. The holiday grew over the years and is now practiced by more and more people with each observance.
It generally occurs on the Monday in March after Daylight Savings Time begins. It's thought that people might need a little extra help adjusting to the time change. This is what the Anthonys thought when they created the holiday, anyway. The main thing to remember is there's really no wrong way to observe the holiday as long as you take time for a nap in some way. Below, we'll outline naps throughout the ages, some famous naps that have occurred, and what different intervals of naps can do to help you get that optimal rested feeling that so many are chasing.
Naps Have Shaped Cultures Throughout History
Naps probably started happening more as humanity started to shift from being primarily hunter-gatherers to adopting massive systems of organized farming. Often farms were protected by city walls, which meant that the people felt a little safer. Naps are more likely to happen under these circumstances. Prior to this, if you were a human in the wild or in small tribes, you'd be less likely to survive if you took a chance and napped.
As societies continued to develop and advance, regular naps became more commonplace. The Greeks and Romans had their own words for naps. Just like what's evolved in modern Spanish culture, naps were taken during the hottest part of the day, usually in the early to mid-afternoon. In fact, the roots of the word "siesta" are "sexta" and "hora" which translates to "sixth hour," the hour of the day that everyone decided to take a snooze.
Naps were referred to with reverence, so much so that in the popular stories and literature that began to develop, dastardly deeds would take place while a character was unassumingly napping. Examples of this include some classic Shakespearean instances where fairies cause mischief in A Midsummer Night's Dream or how the inciting murder occurs in Hamlet: Prince of Denmark. Then there are more well-known examples like the tale of Rip van Winkle, who lies down for a nap and wakes up 20 years later after the American Revolution has erupted, been fought, and then won.
Do People Observe this Holiday Today?
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Today, people are constantly looking for ways to get more sleep. We live in a largely sleep-deprived society, where over-emphasis on productivity can cause long term health problems. Because of this, once people know about this holiday, they are eager to celebrate it. From taking a nap outside under a tree, to resting on a cot or a couch in between meetings, the holiday can be all that's needed to change the course of an otherwise more routine day.
Now we'll break down some creative ways to get napping. Hopefully, these options will inspire you to come up with your own ideas. Feel free to use these options too if they're really calling out to you. Or combine a number of these different ways to celebrate. There's no rule that says you may only take one nap during any given day.
The Satisfying Crash
Sometimes your body's just been run around a little too much. In these cases, the best option is to find the nearest fluffy surface and just crash out. This surely happens on National Nap Day without the nappers even knowing it. But they're celebrating the holiday in their own way nonetheless.
The Coffee Nap
This is a fun one for those who want to hack that amazing feeling of wakefulness without spending too much time asleep. This method involves combining the power nap with the powerful substance that is caffeine. It makes for a jolting combo that's good for any time of year. To begin, prepare a coffee or shot of espresso for yourself and make sure to lie down and get to sleep right after. Also right before you fade off, set an alarm for 27 minutes, leaving you 7 minutes to fall asleep and 20 minutes to nap. This is the standard power nap timeframe. When you wake up, you'll feel some powerful energizing effects.
Pausing on an Outdoor Patio
It doesn't have to be on a patio, but if the spirit moves you to be outside overlooking a beautiful view, so be it. This way, when you wake up, the first thing your consciousness is greeted with is an inspiring vista that could quite literally knock your socks off if you're in the right location. Especially if that location prompts you to then get out into some sand and experience a nearby body of water.
Taking in the Silence
Speaking of communing with water—you may be inspired to go catch a nap in what are known as float tanks. These are quiet spaces that cocoon you from all light and sound and bathe you with water that matches your body temperature. People who experience these floats often come out relaxed and recharged, as what's created is a sensation similar to the primal feeling of being in the womb.
The Classic Hammock
Hammocks are designed perfectly for avid nappers. If you own one, then you probably don't need us to convince you to take a nap on National Nap Day or any other time. So to honor this holiday, why not take time to bust out that quality hammock or go seek one out? There may be outdoor venues or taverns with yards that have available hammocks depending on the climate of where you live. If you've never experienced a nap in a hammock, we suggest it's time you take one.
The Poolside Toast
Hopefully, you won't become like burnt toast. Another way to enjoy a quick sleep session on National Nap Day is through napping by a pool. You may even be able to get a tan while you're at it.
The Oceanside Getaway
Once again, it's important to remember how valuable sunscreen is in places like these, especially when napping. In this scenario, the waves of the ocean will carry you off into a deep sleep. It's best to have time for a longer session here to get the full benefit.
The Disco Nap
Night owls and wayward clubbers alike, this one's for you. If you're engaged in a night out on the town, it's great to have a friend that lives close to where the action is. This way, when you're starting to feel low, you can simply head over to their place and "take a disco nap." This way you'll be able to recharge and keep your night of fun going.
The Workhorse's Nap
Yes, even the most strident over-achievers have time to nap, efficiently of course! For those of you who don't want to miss a beat, keep a cot behind your desk, and celebrate National Nap Day on your terms. Even if those terms are to get it done as quickly and unobtrusively as possible.
The Golden Hour Nap
This is a great trick for those who have somewhat of a night ahead of them and want to start it off in style. What you do is time your nap so that you'll wake up to experience the golden hour/sunset. Then when you wake up, you're able to take in the natural beauty that occurs every day and begin your night fresh.
The Health Benefits of Catching More Z's
Now that we've gone over all the great ways you can engage in the act of napping, it's time for you to know all of the positive health benefits that you'll derive from taking the time to add this essential practice to your life. Study after study has revealed that napping and getting adequate sleep can help prevent a whole host of health problems. So remember these when you decide to take a nap or not, even on a National Nap Day.
Prevent Heart Attacks
Heart attacks most commonly occur in the early morning hours because of the way sleep relates to blood pressure. Getting an adequate amount of sleep can help mitigate these issues by lowering your blood pressure and keeping your heart healthy.
Cancerous cells are cleared away with more efficiency when you get adequate sleep. These cells are an anomaly in the body and are cleared away with no fuss. Having adequate sleep means that these cells will not accelerate into a more serious diagnosis. If you already have cancer, getting more sleep can only benefit you as well.
Finding ways to take more naps may have roots in National Nap Day celebrations, but in reality, the napping itself is another handy way to relieve stress. The actual components of stress reduction stem from the amount of REM sleep your brain gets to have. It's a kind of hard reset that allows your brain to take stock of what you've been going through. It can then let go of what's not needed and hang on to the information you'd like to remember. An overtaxed brain is an overstressed brain. Finding more opportunities to nap can help with this.
Inflammation is a natural part of your body's healing response, though excessive amounts of it are not always helpful. Taking more naps can help you reduce unneeded inflammation and help your body heal more efficiently.
Because sleep helps optimize your body's ability to maintain itself, it also lets your metabolism optimize as well. This leaves your body more adequately set up to decide what energy needs to be stored and what energy can be let go of.
When you're depressed, low energy could be the cause. In these cases, a quick way to mitigate this kind of depression is to get a little bit more rest in the form of a nap. If this is the case for you, then there's no need to wait for National Nap Day to take action. Put aside time for the naps you need to lift your spirits.
Improving Your Memory
On top of all of these other great reasons to nap, one of the best reasons is that your memory will improve. This will allow you to lead a wholly more fulfilling life. You'll remember the great moments and remember the lessons you learned from those not-so-great moments. Also, with better memory, you won't be spending precious time trying to remember things. You'll actually be living your life in the moment and tapping into your memory when needed.
What are some reasons you'll choose to celebrate National Nap Day this year? We hope that you're inspired to take some extra time during the holiday to nap as well as during other deserving moments throughout your year as well.