Words by: Khushi Jadhav
Sleep had always been an ‘activity’ I wanted to avoid when I was younger. As a form of rebellion, I would secretly play on my DS past my bedtime and sneakily hide it when Mum did her routine nightly checks.
I never really wanted my days to end.
I knew when it was ‘time to sleep’ I would no longer have a chance to immerse myself in
the world that stayed awake. Upon reflection, I have come to realise that my distaste for sleep rose from the disruptive, compliant nature of kindergarten ‘nap time’. The way day-time sleep was enforced for everyone,
at the same time (assuming we all would rather hit-the-hay than play in the sandpit), was a concept I innocently could not fathom as an energetic child.
Now, as someone who has experienced 12 hour shifts at work, laborious university days and very caffeinated mornings (and afternoons), sleep is all I can think about. I realised my perspective on sleep changed when it was no longer something I was told to do, instead, something that I desperately wanted to do.
Long-qualified psychiatrist Dr. Li Hassan who focuses on young adult and adult psychotherapy, consults her patients about the importance of napping as part of maintaining good mental health. She advocates that the way people listen to their body about hunger, is the same way they should think about sleep.
“We must always remember that we do not always know the context as to why people have the urge to nap, the same way we cannot explain why we have cravings for food throughout the day” she said.
“Sleep and napping is a form of medicine and can mentally provide the comfort we need in so many intricate ways.”
In saying this, she uses the metaphor of food when describing ‘extreme’ sleep deprivation and napping constantly.
“Over-napping or the inability to sleep during night hours is a common response to trauma and psychiatrists can guide people to finding a sleep routine that works best for them. But napping should not be seen as
a ‘guilty-pleasure’ like chocolate, but more like soup — a nourishing meal” she said.
When pondering about my own relationship with napping and sleep, I treated it as either a chore or a ‘choice’; one I could avoid to keep pursuing my never-ending to-do list. As the idea of slowing down and nourishing my body suggests, I am starting to see nap- ping as a form of meditation. Rather than view- ing naps as a need, or as draining and selfish, more young people should view it as a subsection of their sleep routine.
Dr. Hassan also advises that young adults who may not have the opportunity to nap or may feel it is disruptive to their work, should develop a customised sleep routine.
“The concept of sleep hygiene is a preventative measure to ensure we are more likely to meet our individualised requirement of REM sleep. If we can get our sleep at night, we might not need to sleep during the day,” she advised.
“Lavender oil, softer sheets, or music, may help with sustaining a more meaningful, deeper sleep,” Dr. Hassan also suggested.
So I urge you to join me on my journey, where I will endeavour to put down the device at night, embrace my naps on campus, and get my essential oils ready for my much needed beauty sleep.
If it is sweet dreams, catching you at thirty, or not letting the bedbugs bite, I wish you all a very sweet goodnight!