I get several of those a week, afternoons when the girls cooperate, the phone doesn't ring, and I'm in a good state of mind to sleep. One of those "perfect naps" transpired while I was away in Memphis. It was a whopping 2 1/2 hour nap - and it was glorious! It was so quiet, the bed was oh-so-comfy, and I wasn't trying to listen for little munchkin activity in the background.
But here's the thing: the "perfect" nap doesn't always follow a particular set of circumstances. Sometimes it's short. Other times, it's long, like on my vacation. Sometimes I'm in my own bed. Other times I'm away from home. Most of the time, the perfect nap does involve me waking up on my own, but not always. If I've been able get the rest I need, and someone or something wakes me up, the nap may still qualify for a perfect one. It just depends on how I feel when I wake up.
So that's what I've learned to go on - how I feel. If I wake up rested and refreshed after an hour and 15 minutes, that's my nap. But if I wake up after 2 hours, and I still feel fatigued, I try to get in another 30 minutes. Granted, I HATE when that happens, but life with lupus isn't always perfect, and my body doesn't lie. Taking a little more time to get rid of that exhausted feeling is always worth it.
I've found this to be the best gauge in almost every aspect of lupus, too. Whether it's exercise, medication, symptom activity, or lifestyle factors - my body is the best judge. If I feel better physically afterward, it was a good idea. If I feel worse, I need to figure out why. Trusting myself to interpret my body's signals has turned out to be one of the most valuable tools I have in my lupus survival kit. It enables me to talk more candidly with my doctor, evaluate my treatment more accurately, and manage my disease more effectively, all so that I can live well, despite my illness.
So here's to continuing to listen to my body and trusting the signals it's sending me, even if I don't like what it's telling me!
*Note: This current "listen to how you feel" strategy comes only after desperately, yet ineffectively trying to IGNORE how I felt for several years. So don't fool yourself - if you're trying to CONVINCE yourself that you feel good, when you actually don't, you need to re-read chapters 1-3 of Despite Lupus!