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Tuesdays with Jane: To Sleep, Perchance to Parent

Mention napping to parents of young children and they assume you’re only talking about the short people in the household. If you’re like most parents, your to-do lists are so daunting that the suggestion of napping sends you into fits of hysterical laughter. However, research shows that just one hour of lost sleep results in a 25% drop in productivity. That means that if instead of working straight through a day, you took a catnap to catch up on sleep you were shorted the night before, you could get eight hours of work done in just six hours.

While finding time for napping may seem impossible, it’s certainly easier than going for a run, and better for your waistline that indulging in chocolate for an energy boost (although the dark varieties do have benefits of their own). Stop thinking of closing your eyes as a sign of laziness and embrace the practice as the healthy habit it is! Here’s a few ideas for finding time:

Target after lunch. That way, your nap won’t interfere with a good night’s sleep. 15-30 minutes is ideal, just enough to refresh you without making you more groggy.

Nap first, catch up later. If you’re at home with small children, finally getting them to lay down can seem like the perfect opportunity to tackle the laundry or clean off the counters. Rest first. If you’re concerned about oversleeping, set an alarm for 30 minutes.

Build understanding. My children’s favorite TV show was on just before their nap time. I often sat them on either side of me and said, “Mommy’s going to close her eyes for a few minutes. I’ll be a better mom later if you let me rest while you enjoy the show.” They quickly learned the benefits of not poking me and I got my delectable 15 minutes to snooze.

Think nap break instead of coffee break. Most companies allow coffee breaks yet frown on nap breaks, when in fact the latter add far more to worker productivity and quality decisions. Know that at least one researcher discovered that the largest percentage of nappers in a business were those managers who could close their doors so no one could see them napping! If your office doesn’t have a nap room (it’s actually a growing benefit), lean over your newspaper, spend 15 minutes in your car, or learn to nap in the midst of noise (one friend of mine used a recliner in the noisy employee lounge for a few moments of shut-eye during lunch).

Tired parents are short-tempered, irritable, and impatient, rather like the children they’re trying to guide! Tiredness also saps your creativity and decision-making ability. Further, you don’t need a bunch of fancy equipment, or expert advice, or special classes, to get started. What other investment of so little time and money could have such a substantial impact on your ability to be a good parent? I can’t think of one…guess it must be time to catch a few winks!