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Photo: The Nap Ministry.

Although recent research into the connection between frequent, long naps and dementia has made all of us serious nappers nervous, I remain a big proponent. Sweet sleep “knits up the raveled sleeve of care” and calms us down. It lets us return to our activities with restored energy.

WordPress blogger Tricia Hersey has known this for a long time. And during the stressful summer of 2020, she was moved to spread the word to a wider audience. Napping is not escapism, she believes. Rather, if you’re refreshed, you can fight the good fight another day,

Hannah Good writes at the Washington Post that “years before the pandemic encouraged legions of people to question their relationship with work, Tricia Hersey was preaching the gospel of rest.

“A multidisciplinary artist, writer and community organizer, Hersey began thinking about the importance of rest as a theology graduate student at Emory University in 2013. She’d recently endured some personal trauma and grief, alongside her difficult graduate school research, which dealt with the cultural trauma of slavery. A few states away in Ferguson, Mo., the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining traction in response to a number of police killings of Black people — many of which were captured on video and shared ubiquitously on social media.

“In short, she was exhausted, and it led her to do something radically simple: She took more naps.

“A few years later, Hersey’s philosophy of rest as resistance took shape as an organization. The Nap Ministry, founded in 2016, is an artistic practice and community organization that focuses on the radical power of letting your body rest. …

“Since then, the Atlanta-based organization has hosted hundreds of writing workshops, lectures and communal events. … Hersey’s book, a manifesto on her philosophies called Rest is Resistance, is set to be released this October. …

“The ministry’s signature events are nap sessions: community events where people can rest together. Participants lie on yoga mats as a facilitator reads meditations and poetry; dim lights and soft music, sometimes performed by live musicians, set the tone. This helps assuage what can be a strange and vulnerable experience — falling asleep with strangers. When it comes time to wake up, the music grows louder and changes to something upbeat and joyful: a tone-setter to carry the lessons learned into the day, according to Hersey. …

“We asked Hersey to make our readers a playlist inspired by these themes of rest and resistance. … ‘The energy of this playlist is celebration, ease and leisure,’ she said. ‘It reminds us that we can daydream, wander, imagine and dance. We can just be.’ “

Hersey’s list starts with Duke Ellington’s ‘A New World Coming,’ which she believes is “a piece of magic. This composition is a call for imagining a new world. It opens the playlist because it taps into the expansiveness of dreaming with orchestra sound. To begin the journey of liberation via rest, we must first stay in a ‘DreamSpace.’ ”

“Lullaby” by Tasha, Hersey says, is “a classic lullaby with a specific request for Black girls to do less, dismantle the ‘superwoman’ myth and sleep.”

As for Nina Simone’s “Here Comes the Sun,” Hersey calls it “a joyful moment of ease and hope. The ultimate wake-up call. I have used this song to wake people up from their slumber slowly when they sleep at our collective napping experiences.’ “

Communal napping is weird at first. We had a nap room at my former job. You get over the awkwardness fast if you know you are exhausted and just need about 20 minutes of shut-eye to be good for the rest of the day.

When my sister was in the hospital and I was spending many long, anxious days there, I discovered I actually had quite a gift for taking brief, restorative naps. One time I went to sleep on a bench in a busy, lighted hallway next to an elevator bank, where a maintenance man was operating a huge floor polisher!

More at the Post, here.

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Photo: Joe Suarez for NPR
Las Cruces High School has one napping pod, which students use for 20 minutes when they are tired, stressed or angry.

In my family, we are big believers in naps. Long naps, short naps, any kind of nap. I don’t take a nap every day, but when I’m feeling exhausted for any reason, I find that 15 or 20 minutes of sleep really refreshes me.

Interestingly, 20 minutes is what teachers prescribe for students at Las Cruces High School in New Mexico.

Patti Neighmond reports at National Public Radio, “Studies have shown teenagers actually need between nine and 10 hours of sleep a night. But the vast majority (69 percent) aren’t getting it.

“Enter ‘napping pods.’ They’re essentially egg-shaped lounge chairs that recline, with a circular lid that can be pulled over the chest to shield against light.

“It just sort of envelops you in a really nice darkness, with soft lighting behind you,” says [18-year-old Hannah] Vanderkooy, a frequent user of the pods. She says she typically gets only four to five hours of sleep a night.” She’s a senior and working hard to get good grades and maybe college scholarships.

“There’s soft music playing in the pod and ‘you just feel extremely relaxed,’ she says. …

“A nap can’t substitute for a good night’s sleep, but it certainly can help, says Dr. Nitun Verma, a sleep specialist and spokesperson for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

“A short nap for a teenager ‘can give a boost to memory and attention during the day, and it can increase school performance,’ he says, adding that in a perfect world, schools would roll back their start times. …

“Several public schools in New Mexico are trying to tackle the problem by providing napping pods for their students.

” ‘We know lack of sleep changes mood and makes you more anxious,’ says family nurse practitioner Linda Summers, who is an associate professor at New Mexico State University’s school of nursing in Las Cruces.

“Summers also works with the nearby Las Cruces High School health center, and has seen firsthand the effects of sleep deprivation on students there. So she decided to apply for a federal health grant to buy the pods, which, at the time, cost $14,000 each. They were installed in four high schools.

“And while the Las Cruces school napping pods were bought to remedy sleep deprivation, Summers says, ‘it also turns out to be good for anger and stress.’

“Even if kids don’t fall asleep, but simply ‘zone out,’ she says, they emerge saying they feel ‘refreshed and calm.’ ” More here.

Summers has conducted a study that has been accepted by a peer-reviewed journal, so expect to hear more on this topic anon.

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What? Another story on naps?

This time, no less a personage than Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post is weighing in on the importance of catching 40 winks if you need them. She has written a book called The Sleep Revolution, in which she predicts that most offices will have nap rooms in the not-too-distant future.

“Huffington’s mission: to eliminate the stigma long associated with sleeping at work. … In the HuffPost newsroom, ‘having a nap in the middle of the afternoon is actually a performance-enhancing tool,’ she said. …

“Experts like Sara Mednick, a researcher at the University of California, recommend a short nap in the middle of the day because you won’t feel groggy when waking up.

“Other companies like Google, Zappos and Ben & Jerry’s are getting on board with the napping trend. All now have built nap rooms in their offices. …

“Sleep is ‘the gateway through which a life of well-being must travel,’ Huffington recently wrote. It allows people to be more productive, lead healthier lives and connect more deeply to themselves, she added.

“Huffington will soon embark on a college tour, where she plans to visit 50 schools with leading sleep experts.” More here.

Hmmm. Time for a nap.

Photo: cdnimg

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Here is an idea whose time has come. Aux armes! We need to remove the barriers to napping!

Olivia Vanni at BostonInno explains the revolutionary new Sleepbox concept.

“Sleepbox, a startup that’s recently set Boston roots, is making our wildest dreams come true: You will soon be able to sleep soundly and safely in any public place conceivable. As the name implies, the company has developed cozy, technologically decked-out cabins that can be set up just about anywhere — in airports, offices or downtown metropolitan areas — and rented by folks looking to catch some Zs.

“How did this visionary venture come about? According to Mikhail Krymov, CEO of Sleepbox and research fellow at MIT, he and his business partner Alexey Goryainov started it as a theoretical side project for their architecture firm Arch Group. The two professionals travel a lot for work and were constantly subjected to flight delays and layovers where all they could do was wish for a comfortable, private place to rest. From their personal experience, they created an initial design for Sleepbox. But it was meant only as a concept, at first.

” ‘It was just a design idea, but then it was published — it was actually published quite a few times — we started receiving requests and orders from all over the world,’ Krymov told me. …

“There are some customers who are buying them for noncommerical uses — say, companies installing them in their offices for employees to use for free. However, there are clients who buy them with the intention of charging people to rent them, like airports and municipalities. …

” ‘I really want people to be more happy, productive and healthy by having enough sleep, and hope that our solution will help,’ Kyrmov said.”

Ye-es!

More here.

Photo: Mikhail Kyrmov

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