Let Sleeping Pugs Lie: lupus naps and how to take one

Now that you've had a chance to digest the sleep article from Monday's post, I thought I'd give you a little more motivation to get that extra shut eye you know you need. Way back when, I needed all the motivation I could get. And then some.

When I started my daily naps back in 2003, I was not happy about it. I knew I felt better after taking a rest in the middle of the day, and I could tell that my health was improving because of that break. But it wasn't a welcomed break from my day. After all, I had stuff to do. And it wasn't going to get done while I was napping.

But somehow, I managed to discipline myself in order to take that nap. And very quickly, the benefits of napping outweighed my resistance to stopping down for a nap.

In the beginning, a lot of people helped me stay on task with my nap. My husband for one was always encouraging and enabling me to nap. My family and in-laws came to the rescue many times - either via phone calls, emails, or if we were visiting, a nudge to go in the other room and rest.

But above all the rest, I had one all-star sleeping coach. A guy who never missed a nap. A guy who napped like his life depended on it. The original napping pug, Henry H. Gorman.

And when Henry went on to greener pastures, his brother, Darwin, the wonder-napper, took over for him. Darwin is, to date, the best, most considerate napper ever. (Henry insisted on taking the best spot in the bed. Dar? He just goes with it.)

Darwin, better known as Baby Dar, looks forward to our nap every single day. He doesn't wear a watch, but somehow he knows when it's time to go up to bed. If I'm late, I hear about it. If I'm trying to finish up "one last thing", he follows me around and paws at my leg until I head upstairs. He holds me accountable for our napping hour, to the point where I feel I never want to let him down. He makes it feel "normal" to nap everyday. He makes our nap something that I look forward to doing together. Thus, we nap side by side every single day, and he and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Now, I realize not everyone has a pug with whom you can share your afternoon nap. Not everyone
has a furry little companion who looks up at you with those big brown eyes, begging and pleading for you to please stop whatever it is you're doing so that you can nap. Not everyone has a pug-nosed motivational coach who snores within seconds of falling into bed, letting you know it's cool to do the same.

In the event that you don't have a sleep coach around (Henry would probably call what he did "life coaching", actually), here are some other ideas to get you to excited, motivated, and enthused about napping when you need it:

1) Carve out a space:  A friend of mine (with lupus) found that if she created a special place dedicated to her weekend (and occasional weekday) naps, she was more likely to take them. She allocated a small inlet on the top landing of her stairs where she permanently set up an arrangement of cushy pillows, blankets, and linens. It looked like a little room of its own, and she said that having that space ready at all times gave her the encouragement she needed to catch those extra ZZZ's.

2) Select a special blanket: Another strategy is to dedicate a blanket (or pillow) as your official "napping supply." Pick one of your softest, most inviting blankets (or splurge on one from a home store - the kind that you can't help but touch every time you see it), and use it only for napping. Keep it draped over the end of your bed, or on the back of the couch, or tucked away in a closet where only you can use it. And let the luxuriousness of that blanket actually lure you to sleep.

3) Use a sleep mask/white noise machine just for the occasion:  You can also set the stage so that the environment in which you're napping is conducive to sleeping. I LOVE using my sleep mask now and then, and I've just started turning on the fan in our master bathroom, which provides just the right amount of white noise to lull me to sleep.

4) Find a reason to rest: Maybe it's not an actual nap you need, as much as some forced down time. If that's the case, consider a magazine subscription, or a trip to the library to stock up on some good books. Winter is around the corner (or if you're in D.C., it's practically here!), and there's no better time to cozy up to a good book for an hour in the afternoon or early evening.  I know, I know. I used to think I didn't have an hour to spare, either. But if that hour of down time allows you to be a more mobile, happier, healthier human being, I say find the time and make the effort.

In their busy, busy schedule, somehow Henry and Darwin managed to make the effort and find the time. See below for some of their most valiant napping moments:

See??? I told you Henry ALWAYS wanted the best spot in the bed!


Aymie said…
Love it!
I'm mastering the art of weekend resting. I'm flaring, just married and work full time, and nothing is more inviting than the thought of Saturday afternoons just resting.
Either it's the prednisone or the naps, but something is working.
Anonymous said…
This is such timely advice, especially with the weather change, holidays, and most of us needing general reminders every so often, especially if you've fallen off the wagon. I find that although I do not have lupus, between fibromyalgia (in remission, yay!), chronic back pain (boo!), midlife hormones (heavy sigh) and mood disorders (at least now I know where my creativity is probably coming from), a nap or rest is probably as necessary as gentle exercise is for me to keep me from flaring and/or bringing me out of the flare ASAP.
Getting a Pillfold style Pillbag was one of the best investments I've ever made for saving my money and sanity, and your book has been referred to over and over again when I need a tune-up or even just inspiration. Keep on keeping on! :-)

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