There Is No Shame in Napping When Your Body Needs It

I have a vague memory of being a toddler, my mother putting me down to nap in my crib one summer afternoon. Normally, I went to sleep. For some reason, that day, I realized if I was quiet, Mom would never know I wasn’t sleeping. I stayed awake, playing with the toys in my crib. When I heard Mom on the steps, I pulled myself up and smiled.

I bet I was a terror the rest of the day.

Napping was never high on my priorities as a kid, or even as a teenager. I worked several jobs, I took care of various pets, I had school and a social life. I liked to run and hike. I loved art and books.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) changed all that in my early 20s.

While I didn’t know what it was at first, I suddenly found myself laying across the bench seat of my truck between college classes and assignments at work and going to sleep. I was exhausted. I hid that exhaustion like one might hide a scandalous affair.

I changed my eating habits. I exercised more. And more. I took vitamins. I read every health and wellness book I could get my hands on. I saw doctors. Read research online. I tried. I really, really tried.

The fatigue got worse as the years went by, though. Then the diagnosis came. The already crushing fatigue became debilitating.

No longer was I working three jobs and running a household full of pets and kids like I’d imagined I would be. I was barely managing myself and a few limp houseplants.

Which is not to say I’ve given up.

I write. Blog posts and novels, short stories and emails. I walk. I jog. I read. I have a cat. I have family, and friends. I have a lot of appointments to attend and a serious disease to manage. I paint, and I draw.

I also nap. Every day, if I can. I used to hide it, like a dirty little secret. I would not admit it to anyone who knew me. I was ashamed.

I’m not anymore. My body needs it, and I work at maximum capacity when I take the time to sleep awhile every day. It makes me my best self.

It’s OK to rest.

It has taken me a ridiculously long time to give myself that permission.

Even with the nap, I keep my days as busy as possible, I push my body to do everything it can – some days beyond what it can – because life is short. I don’t like to be bored. I may be chronically tired, but I am not lazy.

The difference is, now I’m smart about how to handle it. I deserve that.

Getty Image by CentralITAlliance

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