fitness · rest · sleep

Rest, revisted–and I mean naps

Rest is a recurring theme here on the blog. Christine blogged about it in the late summer. And so did Kim a bit before her (about her restorative vacation). And so did Sam a bit before that. We chat about it a lot too.

I was at a meditation workshop recently where the facilitator said that it’s really sad how we glorify busy-ness and how everyone encourages us all the time to do more and more and more and how rest and downtime and naps are almost regarded as guilty pleasures, not birthrights.

As I pondered her words, I realized that I’m fortunate in that I have surrounded myself (mostly) with people who do not support the glorification of being over-busy and who think rest and leisure and naps are good. And it’s lucky for me because I have often struggled with permission to rest. I have a more more tendency.

And yet naps are among my favourite thing in the world. I really enjoy being on vacation because I almost always allow myself afternoon naps when I am. Totally luxurious. They do feel subversive. And sleep is, in fact, a social justice issue that has a lot to do with race and class. The Atlantic reported some years ago about the racial inequality of sleep.  The Nap Ministry talks about naps as subversive acts of resistance against capitalism and white supremacy.

Because sleeping during the day when you could be working!

I know that with working out and training, rest is an important part of it all. Usually, that means not necessarily sleep, but incorporating rest days and active recovery. When Sam and I were in the early days of the blog, doing our Fittest by 50 Challenge (between 2012-2014), I hardly ever got enough rest days into my routine. But now, I put a high premium on that part of my training. For me, it’s not just days off from running or weights (though there is that). but also just taking time-out even from social events. I need that to feel truly restored.

I have discovered since Renald left to go sailing that it is a lot easier for me to fill up all my time. I had a lot more “planned leisure” when he was here because we planned it together and did it together. Hanging with your partner is not social in the same way as other social activities because (ideally, and this turns out to be true in my case), partners who we’ve been with a long time are people who we can most be ourselves with, and so being with them is not a net energy loss.

On Saturday I took an entire day and night to retreat from the world and it felt really restorative. I scheduled nothing and required nothing of myself. I napped in the afternoon (I think it was cold and rainy). After I woke up I luxuriated under the warmth of the covers for a little bit longer.

Image description: At night snowy mountain scene with Northern Lights in the sky and a text box with white border and text that says
Image description: At night snowy mountain scene with Northern Lights in the sky and a text box with white border and text that says “NAPS ARE A HEALING PORTAL. LETS GO THERE” THE NAP MINISTRY–in all capital letters.

Rest and recovery for training purposes is all well and good. But adequate sleep, naps, and the like are another level altogether, not just about self-care (though there is that), but about resistance against an oppressive narrative that glorifies being overly busy, relentlessly long work days, and even being in a state of exhaustion (where people compete over how busy and tired they are). They don’t just heal us as individuals. They have the potential to heal on a more global basis.

Where do you stand on naps?

4 thoughts on “Rest, revisted–and I mean naps

  1. If I had three thumbs they would all be up on the subject of naps! I cannot stand the glorification of busyness. I have a friend who literally asks me when I see her, “Are you just so busy?” And I answer, “Not really.” Even if my answer isn’t true. It makes me feel anti-establishment. Of course there are other implications–sometimes it also makes me feel “useless” because I’m not in demand enough to be so busy all the time. But that’s a whole different psychological issue.

  2. I’m not good at actual naps but I love quality time with the kitties. That is family code for curling up in bed with the cats, and probably a book or some knitting and a cup of tea. Sometimes sleeping is involved, but mostly it is just quiet time to myself.

  3. I prioritize sufficient night-time sleep enough that actual naps don’t always feel necessary, but like a previous commenter, I try to incorporate a lot of cozy relaxing time.

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