Depression Naps: Helpful or Harmful?

Ah, naps. How we wish we had been more appreciative of them during childhood.

Who am I kidding? I’ve always loved naps. Perhaps a little too much.

As someone who lives with depression, I’ve heard all the lectures about the importance of practicing good sleep hygiene. If I want more energy during the day, I need more restful sleep. If I want more restful sleep, I need to avoid napping.

Yawn. I think I’ll go take a nap now.

Just kidding! But in all seriousness, I do wonder why so many practitioners are hell bent on saying what works for the majority, as evidenced by research studies of a small sample of the population that may or may not have been an accurate representation of said population, is what you need to do. Or else.

And like if we don’t adhere to these incredibly challenging activity prescriptions we are hurting ourselves. Because, let’s face it, we don’t know what’s best for us. Science does.

Um, no*.

Many mental health professionals will actually tell you that the key to a successful therapeutic relationship with a counselor is for the counselor to acknowledge that you are the expert in your life. No one else, you.

Your health care professionals should be resources at your disposal to help you make informed decisions on how to best care for your health. But they’re not you. They don’t walk in your shoes or live in your mind every day. You do. So you’re the one that’s going to know what works and what doesn’t. Not them. You.

And so it seems a little odd that when you complain about how you feel like you actually do need to nap some professionals will say you’re just hurting yourself.

And, okay, I get it. We shouldn’t nap all day every day (although some days when you’re dead tired because of being overworked or overstressed or just plain old in the pit of depression resting is exactly what you need). But sometimes at some point in your day, you really need a fucking nap.

And here’s the position I’m in right now (the day I wrote this): I had a fine morning but something triggered me and I fell into a depressive fog and felt tired. And also unmotivated. I had been excited about my day and was ready to work, but then this event derailed me and I just couldn’t function. So guess what I did. I napped.

And oh my god was that JUST what the doctor ordered (or, actually, didn’t order but should have).

After waking up from this nap I felt better. Sometimes naps can be a little mental reset button. You wake up out of the fog you were in and can restart your day fresh.

And I’m not saying this is always the case. Of course sometimes naps don’t give you the energy you hoped for. Sometimes you feel sluggish after. It really is a gamble. And it’s up to your discretion whether or not you think it will be beneficial.

But it is your discretion. Not your doctor’s, not your therapist’s, not your mom’s, not your significant other’s. Yours.

So, all in all, yes, do your best to practice good sleep hygiene. But if you feel like you really need a nap, then just take a fuckin’ nap. : )

*I’m not trying to shit on science. I love science and appreciate its value in allowing us to explore the world around us and within us and understand the complexities of what we can study. I’m just saying it’s not perfect and averages shouldn’t be treated as laws.

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