If you can believe it, I've been taking almost a 2-hour nap every afternoon for the past 11 years. It's become a part of my daily routine that I cannot, will not, and do not bypass. Too much good has come from napping - which you can read about here. Of course, every once in awhile, I have a moment of wishful thinking where I longingly say to myself, "I bet by this time next year, I'll be healthy enough not to nap every day." But that day never seems to come. I get tired every day, so I nap every day. And for me, that's okay. I've realized whether or not I need a nap isn't an indication of how healthy I am. In fact, if I'm healthy because I take a nap, so be it. I have no intention of messing with something that works!
My nap began after a stint in the hospital in August of 2003. My doctor admitted me to the hospital, where I was diagnosed with lupus-induced pancreatitis, severe anemia, and internal bleeding. I went on to have a series of blood transfusions, a slew of exploratory procedures, and was put on a clear liquid diet for several days. In the end, I was in the hospital for a total of 7 days. My doctor told me it was a pretty close call, and after I was discharged, I knew I wanted to eliminate those close calls as much as possible. So I started making changes to my lifestyle, one of which was adding a nap to my day. Even before I was admitted to the hospital, I'd talked to my supervisor and HR director about an alternative work schedule, requesting a shorter work day in order to get home and nap before my debilitating fatigue hit. We agreed that I could work 9-3pm, four days a week (instead of until 6pm), and work 1 day from home, all in an effort to fit in that nap. From that moment on, I never returned to full time employment, and I never missed a nap. At least, almost never.
And while I no longer question the necessity or value of my nap, I don't think I've actually quantified the benefit of my nap before...until just a few weeks ago. It was the day I went to the spa with my sister, which I blogged about last week. As I was completing the necessary health history paperwork prior to any spa service, I went down the list of questions, answering as I always do: yes to arthritis, yes to joint swelling, yes to kidney problems, heart problems, breathing issues, etc., etc. (Note: I used to get a bit unnerved by health-history paperwork - you can read about the ordeal of filling out my flu shot paperwork here - but I've learned to try and take it in stride. After all, with all of the "x"'s I put down, the fact that I'm still alive and kicking is a blessing in itself!)
As I completed the health paperwork, I came across a question I don't think I've ever seen on a spa form. The question was this:
"How are you feeling right now, on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best?"
And it took me a moment to assess: I was really tired, my joints were a little swollen, and I didn't know if or when I was going to get a nap. So truthfully, at that very moment, sitting there with an overdue nap weighing on me, I wasn't feeling too hot. I was at about a 6. And a half. At best. So that's what I put down. And I was quite surprised that I actually felt that crummy.
I finished the paperwork, handed it off to the associate, and promptly found my way to my napping room, where I slept soundly for over 90 minutes.
After I finished my nap, I rejoined my sister, relaxing in the "serenity room" with hot tea, delicious snacks, comfy lounge chairs, and soothing music. As I sat there, enjoying my tea and snacks, fully rested and looking forward to my treatment, I realized I was no longer a 6.5. I was up to a 9.5, just like that.
All it took was a nap. My swelling was all but gone. My exhaustion was gone. My anxiety was gone. And I felt fabulous!
Since then, I've made a mental note every couple days of how I feel just before I nap, and just after I nap, and it's a remarkable difference. Some days, I actually don't feel too bad at the start of my nap. But inevitably, when I wake up, I feel a whole lot better.
So if there was any doubt before, there's no doubt now. My napping ritual is a success. And now I have the numbers to prove it!