The art of power napping

Image 1With talk of nap rooms and hashtags for #bringbackthenap appearing appearing on Twitter, getting a bit of shut-eye during the day is obviously on a lot of people’s minds. Kate Hill is a mistress of the art:

“Take a nap. These words are short. After all, the point of a nap is just a break, a rest or a pause in your day, not an escape from life. These long summer days grow light before my automatic wakeup at 06:30 and find me barely upright at 22:30. My usual working day running Camont includes seventeen hours of alert concentration that looks something like this: morning – eating breakfast while working, shopping, cooking (6 hours); lunch – eating (1.5 hr); afternoon – working (4.5 hr); then in the evening – cooking, eating and relaxing (5 hr). So I usually shoot for a horizontal respite just after lunch while I am still in relaxed mode.

Within my 10-45 minute nap time I sometimes just read. However, a good book can be just as much a delight to sleep with as read. Usually, I let myself fall into a deep down snoring sleep for a few minutes which lasts not much more than 10 minutes. I often return to the kitchen before the summer crew have finished the dishes. Today, sensing everyone was tired and hot, I announced at the table ‘an hour’s quiet time’ delaying the pan rattling, the sink cleaning, and all the dish clattering until after ‘nap time’.  (My bedroom is just above the kitchen!) So, as soon as the last bite was taken, we all scattered to our private corners at Planet Camont and a great snore descended over the land. Heavenly.

When I tell people I take a quick 10-minute power nap, I often hear that it makes them too groggy to do that. Not me. I wake up with a higher energy level, a renewed look at my work, and a fresh second start for the last half of the day. Lots of new studies promote napping as a way to boost productivity. I think of it as ‘re-booting’ my brain often organizing my work day with physical tasks in the cooler mornings, and quieter, more mentally challenging work like writing after my nap. Either way, I feel I get two attempts to be productive and energetic in the same day.

My recipe for a perfect nap?
1. Close my bedroom door
2. Close the curtains and darken the room…or use a sleep mask.
3. Get undressed for a real long nap and get under the covers; for a short power nap, just lay on top of the bed
4. Read a book… slowly. Let every word dance across your ear and hear the rhythm of the sentences
5. Breathe deeply and listen to your breath.
6. By the third page, I usually let the book drop from my hand and slip my reading glasses next to the pillow.

Give it a try. Should you not sleep then just let your body and brain rest a bit and get up with this extra energy knowing that you can live to nap another day.  Bonne répose!”

Are you in favour of taking a power nap and how do you handle it?

Kate Hill is owner and founder of the Kitchen-at-Camont, a culinary retreat in Southwest France specializing in French Farmstead Butchery & Charcuterie. In addition to teaching the cooking of Gascony, writing, and restoring an 18th Century farmhouse and barn, she delights in teaching the culture and lifestyle of rural France which includes a healthy daily nap.

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