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HEALTH: How to have the ultimate power nap

by Amy Ruddick

Because you’re a busy mama, you need your power naps – not only to get through your daily to-do list, but because you deserve to feel good and enjoy the health and wellbeing that comes with getting some shut-eye, especially if you are up during the night with little ones. As cortisol levels rise when we are sleep deprived, so our patience levels shrink.

If you are finding it hard to switch off during the day to recharge however, there are usually three reasons why:

  • Mind: Constant mind chatter, racing thoughts and guilt
  • Body: Aches and pains, indigestion, alcohol or sugar stimulation
  • Environment: Music and sounds, lights or extreme temperatures

Here’s how to make the most of the time you do get to close ‘dem peepers. And yes, if the Spanish can do it, so can we. PUT THE CHORES DOWN and lie on the couch!

MIND

To calm the mind, try these three steps.

1. Create a sleep routine

Take the time to do something mindful and calming to prepare your body for a rest. Read (a copy of Mama Disrupt™ of course), have a cup of herbal tea, take a bath or shower, enjoy some foam rolling, light a candle etc. Swap the TV/your phone for some peace, and revel in your own awesome company.

2. Dump your thoughts

If your head is spinning with your ‘to-do’ list as you sit down, dump it! Grab a note book, paper pad or journal and throw all your ideas and lists into it, knowing that it will still be there when you wake up. Utilise apps like Things or Reminders. As long as you have peace of mind, you will rest easier (and you won’t forget baby yoga next week).

3.  Create a mindfulness practice

All you need is five minutes. Taking deep breaths stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and will calm you. Try apps like Smiling Mind, Headspace, Buddify, Stop Breathe and Think and Insight Timer. The benefits of a clearer mind and calmer outlook knock on to all those around you. Taking the time to nurture yourself is not selfish. It creates a better version of you, so you can give more to those in your life.

BODY

To ease the body, try:

1. Consider your meals carefully

Try eliminating foods which cause indigestion, bloating or discomfort. Also try to consume the majority of your water intake much earlier than your nap to avoid the need for a toilet wake-up.

2. Avoid alcohol and sugar

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and will supress REM sleep (the most restful sleep). It’s also a diuretic and can dehydrate you, so avoid that glass of wine with lunch. It will make you feel sluggish. Reducing spikes in your blood sugar will also help you relax.

3. Limit stimulants

Caffeine can cause ‘body noise’ up to 12 hours post consumption. A good rule if you need your morning coffee (we ALL do!) is to limit your intake pre-nap time.

4. Create a morning routine

Doing things like exercise, showering, getting outside in the sunlight and consuming a nutritious breakfast can boost your metabolism and wake your body up for the day, creating an awesome quality nap in the afternoon.

ENVIRONMENT

To prime your nap environment, think about:

1. Sleep hygiene

Yep that means picking everything up off the floor, and having only a bed and a side table in your bedroom. Fresh sheets and quality linen will also help to create the best setting for good sleep.

2. Climate control

It may be a luxury to have air-con and heating, but they can help when you are needing to sleep well. Air should also be circulated and a window cracked during the day.

3. Lights and sounds

Pitch black is optimal. Dark curtains/blinds and eye masks are great.

MD™