National Nap Day isn’t just a day for skipping work and watching TV—it’s a day meant to recognize the value of rest and to catch up on it. Exhaustion from lack of sleep isn’t an unusual issue as 43% of workers are sleep-deprived. Even the effects of time changes like the return of Daylight Savings Time can exacerbate your exhaustion. According to the Mayo Clinic, napping can increase relaxation, reduce fatigue, increase alertness, improve mood and performance, and even advance reaction time and memory.
We’ll explore the importance of National Nap Day, why you should take advantage of it, and why you should take napping, or at least your sleep schedule, a little more seriously.
National Nap Day: What Exactly is it?
This unofficial holiday started as a way to recognize and spread awareness of the many benefits of sleep. It’s pretty straightforward: dedicate your day to dozing. Take the day to catch up on your rest, whether that be sleeping in or taking some time out of your day to take a 10-20 minute nap. The Mayo Clinic recommends taking shorter naps, as longer ones can make you groggy. Also, be sure to take your naps in the early afternoon, as napping after 3 p.m. can throw off your sleep schedule.
When is National Nap Day?
National Nap Day takes place on March 15 every year, so it’s easy to remember. It strategically takes place right after Daylight Savings Time returns, and we lose an hour. While that doesn’t seem like a lot, that time change can throw people off and cause more fatigue. National Nap Day is meant to be an unofficial holiday for people to catch up on their rest if they’re feeling exhausted by the time reset.
The History of National Nap Day
While the concept of naps is hardly new, National Nap Day was started by Boston professor William Anthony, Ph.D., and his wife, Camille Anthony, in 1999. William founded the Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation in 1979 and was an avid mental health advocate. He and Camille wanted to break the negative connotations Americans have toward napping and raise awareness about the health benefits of rest.
“We figured this would be a good day to celebrate the importance of napping because everyone is one hour more sleep-deprived than usual,” William said. “The fact is that the majority of Americans are sleep-deprived even without Daylight Saving Time.”
How to Celebrate?
You can celebrate National Nap Day in a variety of ways, but mostly by napping!
Being the sleep-enthusiasts that we are here, our Slumber Yard team celebrated last year by taking a midday nap in our mattress room. It’s stacked to the brim with 100 different beds, a.k.a., the best possible situation you can have at work for nap day. So, all of us picked our favorite mattress and took a well-deserved snooze for about 45 minutes. However, if you don’t test beds for a living and don’t automatically get a nap-time break for the holiday, you may have to request permission from your employer to take some time off. Even just thirty minutes to an hour is enough time to get the job done.
If you do celebrate National Nap Day, be sure to create a restful environment for yourself. Listen to relaxing white noise or music to help wind your brain down. Put on some cozy pajamas and filter out as much light as you can. Take a natural sleep aid or use some essential oils. It’s especially important to turn off any screens, including your phone, as this can affect your sleep.
The Importance of National Nap Day This Year
While Americans have a habit of making light of our sleep schedules, our state of rest directly ties with our mental health. Studies show that we may need it more than ever because of the social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. A CDC study published in August 2020 revealed that 40% of Americans live with mental health or drug-related issues following the pandemic. Young adults, ages 18-24, were significantly impacted, with 75% reporting that they struggled with their mental health. The study also found that one in four young adults considered suicide during the summer of 2020.
As a result of the pandemic, we’ve had to change our approach to nearly every facet of our lives. We’ve had to socially isolate ourselves. We’ve had to be on high alert for exposure to COVID-19. We need rest. Rest is healthy and necessary. While it won’t cure mental health issues, it can help lessen the weight of them by offering positive psychological and physical health benefits.
Let’s face it: most of us need more rest. National Nap Day won’t fix our sleep issues entirely, but it’s a start. It’s a built-in opportunity for us to take a pause and catch up on some much-needed rest. Don’t start your Daylight Savings Time on the wrong foot, sleep-deprived and groggy. Take National Nap Day to celebrate the positive attributes of sleep, even if it’s a 20-minute nap spent dreaming on your couch.