Body · Living

Embracing the Need for Naps

How is everyone getting on?  As summer warms up (here in the UK, there has been a recent heatwave), I am reading more and more about how the heat affects many of us with chronic illness.  I personally didn’t struggle with the heat until about 5 years ago – now I am all about the shade, fans, Magicool and long, cold drinks (G&Ts preferably!)

The heat has recently been affecting my sleep.  Rhiann from My Brain Lesion and Me has some brilliant advice on how to keep cool in this article here – I have also found that a hot water bottle filled with iced water can also help.

I’m not a great sleeper at the best of times, but the hot weather plus my ongoing saga of foot cramps waking me up in pain in the early hours of the morning really are a recipe for a completely broken night’s sleep.  I am awaiting a call back from an MS nurse to discuss this, so fingers crossed something like a change in meds might help.

I find that I go to bed full of good intentions for the following day; I will try and do some exercise, I will blog more regularly, I will take the time to prep some healthy food…. but it all goes down the pan as soon as I wake up exhausted.  I end up having (too much) coffee to try and wake me up so that I can be the productive and efficient Mum that I need to be, making packed lunches, preparing breakfast and organising the kids so that they are ready for school on time.  Then as soon as they are out the door, I plonk onto the sofa for my own breakfast and end up spending way too much time scrolling through social media instead of getting on with the activities that I had planned.  I can always tell when 2pm comes along – I don’t even need to check a clock – without fail, no matter what I have been doing in the morning, 2pm is when my body says, ‘stop’.  The frustrating thing is, even if I have managed to have a good night’s sleep and wake feeling rested, it is still the same.  It is almost as if my body can now only go so long being awake before my batteries run out – and the only way to recharge them is by having a sleep.

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I am sure to many people without chronic illness, the idea of having a nap every day sounds blissful; I know it did to me before I got ill.  But I find it frustrating that I can’t function without a nap.  It impacts on my ability to make plans for the afternoon and to easily pick my kids up from school.  But, hey ho, if having a nap makes me a (slightly) more productive and amiable person to be around in the evening, needs must.

I sometimes find it tricky to nap – if I know that I need to be up by a particular time, for example, I spend so long just trying to get to sleep that my alarm goes off before I have switched off.  So I am trying to get better at just ‘resting’, without the pressure to sleep.  If sleep happens, great.  If not, at least I have recharged somewhat.

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Some tips on napping/resting:

  • Embrace the nap – whereas initially it felt like I had ‘given in’ to my MS, now I see that nap/rest time is a sort of haven – it gives me the chance to feel like I can function.  I know that my need to nap is due to illness and I need to do everything I can to feel better.
  • Try and keep your environment conducive to napping/resting – quiet, the right temperature and not too bright.
  • Stick to a napping routine if possible – this can help you plan your day and, just like babies and toddlers, having a daily nap can help you make it through the rest of your day feeling a bit more awake.
  • If sleep is not going to happen you could try: listening to soothing music whilst lying down, breathing slowly in and out, meditation or gentle stretching – anything to slow down and focus on YOU.
  • Work out what kind of nap works for you – short 10-20 minute naps a couple times a day? One longer one?  I know that although I feel like I can continue sleeping for hours when I wake from a nap, I function best when I stick to an hour or so – otherwise, it interferes with my sleep at night.

It can be difficult fitting in a napping routine when you have to go to work or have small children at home.  I am off work at the moment and my kids are both at school, but I remember how tricky it is to sometimes fit rest times into a busy schedule.  Does anyone have any tips or experiences for when naps are difficult to fit into your routine?  I would love to hear.

Jen 2

19 thoughts on “Embracing the Need for Naps

  1. I’ve got better at napping as I’m struggling to much with sleep during the night. My GP suggested trying to ‘go with it’ for now, not to get so frustrated about not sleeping and just rest when my body needs it during the day. I hope you manage more peaceful naps too, I definitely think they’re underrated! x

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    1. My sister lives in Australia and we got married there, so I remember how hot it can be! Unfortunately the UK isn’t really geared up with air con (I guess because hot weather is relatively rare on the whole). I should make myself a pack up with fan, cooling spray etc so it is always on hand really 🙂 Hope you’re enjoying slightly cooler weather now xx

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  2. I wanted to say something about this but I don’t have any advice. I am on disability, and have no children so napping happens whenever needed. And sometimes an hour long nap turns into a 7 hour nap.
    Although, I resent the need to nap almost daily, it has been a part of my life for about the last 10 years or so.
    It must be a much tougher thing to deal with when you have children. I applaud you for being able to handle things.

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  3. Although I don’t have a chronic illness, I do feel the need to take a nap. Being a mom can certainly drain the energy out of anyone, so I usually take a short, 15-minute nap in the middle of the day to restore myself. Honestly, I can’t function without my naptime.

    -Fabi at Wonder Fabi

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh the napping: I never realised how tired I could get! Keep napping but still feel tired. Have just been diagnosed with RRMS and it is sooo tricky Jen! Have been v active with lots of exercise before diagnosis (am v lucky!) but am absolutely flaked this week as a result of returning after an episode. Plop! Am trying to see the funny side! Enjoying your blog. Thank-you! xx

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    1. Thank you for reading – apologies, I didn’t see your message until now for some reason. The tiredness suddenly just hits me too 🙂 I have worked out that if I set my alarm for an hour, it normally takes me a while to get to sleep (too aware my alarm is going to go off I guess) then when I finally DO fall asleep, I have about 1/2 hour before my alarm goes. I think that this is actually the perfect amount of time as I have started to actually wake up from the nap feeling somewhat refreshed as opposed to still tired! xx

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