I cannot believe the first month of 2013 has come and gone. Just when I thought it would be a mild winter after all London woke up to a lovely Narnia-esque scene. I hope you tried the winter tips
from last month’s news
letter and found them useful. Winter will be here a little while yet so wrap up warm and take care!
How to nap
Do you savour the weekend lie-in or do you get up the same time every day whether it’s your day off or not? If you wake up before the crack of dawn during the week then it may be a treat to sleep in a little more on the weekend but don’t over do it. It may be tempting to catch up on your sleep on Sunday but if your wake-up call swings wildly from 6am to just before noon your body may feel the same effects as jetlag such as grogginess and irritability. The perfect solution if you feel tired is a simple 20 minute nap.
For years napping has been like a guilty secret associated with laziness. No one wants to risk being caught napping at work, and it seemed like a luxury only available on holiday somewhere in the Mediterranean. Many are advised not to nap in case it disrupts your sleep at night, and it’s often seen as the result of an illness.
However research has shown that napping has benefits when, like everything, done in moderation. Naps boost alertness, creativity, mood and productivity in the later hours of the day. A Harvard study in 2008 showed that taking a 45 minute nap improves both learning and memory.
The body benefits too.
Napping reduces stress, lowers the risk of stroke and heart attack, diabetes and excessive weight gain.
It all sounds good. I’ve never felt any qualms about napping. Obviously I didn’t just disappear in the middle of a working situation, but I understood that if I felt drowsy then there was no point fighting it. On average we tend to sleep one hour less per night than we require so if you add that up over a week, that’s quite a few hours missing.
Most mammals sleep for short periods throughout the day. We humans have designated a block of hours at night for sleep but that doesn’t mean it suits our physiology best. Our bodies are programmed for two major periods of sleepiness: between 2 and 4am (when most of us are sleeping) and 1 and 3pm (when that slump usually occurs). This midday wave of drowsiness occurs whether we’ve had that pasta lunch or not as it’s due to the afternoon quiet phase in our physiology.
With acupuncture, we listen to our bodies’ signs and signals. Unless there’s a particular reason to you not getting enough restful sleep during the night, then a little drowsiness during the day isn’t something to worry about.
Tips to help you nap well:
1. What time would you go to sleep if you were free to plan your day? If you’re an early bird then 1 or 1:30pm is the best time to nap. For night owls, you’re going to feel like a nap a little later, around 2:30 or 3pm.
2. A perfect pick-me-up should be around 20 to 30 minutes. Longer naps can also be beneficial but can result in grogginess which is not good for a work day.
3. It may sound silly, but have a cup of tea or coffee right before your nap. Caffeine takes about 20 to 30 minutes to take effect, so you’ll wake up ready to go.
4. Find a cool, quiet, safe place and ear an eye mask and earplugs if you need to. Try to lie down if you can, it takes nearly twice as long to fall asleep sitting upright.
5. Take deep breaths and try to clear your mind. Concentrate on relaxing your muscle groups one at a time. If you can’t keep my mind quiet, try this little tip that works for me: I write with my finger one random, short sentence like “It was a single night” a few time. The sentence doesn’t have to make sense and I find that writing it in cursive helps.
6. Set an alarm!
An acupuncture treatment is the perfect time to have a little doze. Many people tend to drift off after the needles have been inserted, so don’t be self-conscious. Take the opportunity and sink right into it.
Know that a little nap during the day isn’t meant to be a way for you to catch up on sleep that you’re not getting. If you have trouble sleeping or staying asleep for longer on a regular basis, you should look into ways to improve your quality of sleep at night.
If you enjoyed this, then be sure to visit the blog The Happy Acupuncturist to read more articles, tips and health news.
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Last week I was buying a bouquet when I discovered a plant called the waxflower. The flowers are small and the stem looks exactly (to my untrained eye) like a rosemary plant. The fasciniating thing is that when you clean the stalk or just rub the little leaves this amazing citrus-y smell comes out. It’s a very bizarre hit for the senses smelling a citrus smell from what looks like rosemary or very small pine needles.
As I write this the wind is having a field day and lashing against the branches. What better way to stay warm than with a lovely cup of spicy homemade chai? Get the recipe