This morning, I sat at my kitchen table exhausted from working late last night and waking up at the crack of dawn to get my young men off to school. My workout loomed large. I scheduled a tough one with a spotter, so I knew I’d be pushing myself exceptionally hard. I didn’t look forward to trading in my robe for getting dressed; my cozy bed was just yards away.
In that moment, I was playing games with myself and stalling. I knew that I’d feel better after training, but damn, nothing sounded less appealing than a steel pole on my neck. I hit my bed to take a quick nap, setting an alarm to make sure I didn’t slip too far into dreamland.
Fifteen minutes later, I emerged from a very light sleep feeling slightly better, threw on shorts and a t-shirt and hit my session. Now that I’ve gotten through it, I feel confident and fulfilled.
Here’s what that nap did for me according to healthcentral.com:
Studies show that taking a nap is a great way to increase alertness and reaction times, improve mood, and reduce accidents.
I felt slow and lethargic and really needed that alertness. In those moments, most folks turn to sugar or energy drinks to spark their mood. If all it takes is 15 minutes of shut-eye for a more natural boost, count me in.
A recent study in the research journal Sleep examined the benefits of naps of various lengths and no naps. The results showed that a 10-minute nap produced the most benefit in terms of reduced sleepiness and improved cognitive performance.
There are plenty of people without 10 minutes to rub together. For those truly crunched for time, focusing on deep breathing while performing another activity can improve energy and mood. From Athena Staik, PhD, LMFT:
Deep breathing is proven to be the most efficient way to bring your focus to the present, to center yourself and feel relaxed…reduce stress, even in the most challenging moments. With practice, you will experience more presence, focus and energy, as deep breathing allows your mind and body to more effectively share information and work in harmony together.
It’s inevitable that you will encounter days that challenge your willingness to complete your workout or any difficult task you have on the horizon. Fatigue and moodiness set in. Before you throw your hands up in disgust and begin a different activity, close your eyes for fifteen minutes and see what happens. You might just find out that you had a strong lift in you after all.