Could this be the exercise that dreams are made of?
If your ideal 45 minute workout involves nothing more than a pillow, a doona and the chance to shut your eyes, you might just be in luck. Napercise has arrived on our shores and is the newest wellness trend being trialled in Brisbane.
Targeted at busy and fatigued individuals, napping classes are believed to help improve overall wellness. The classes, which have proven to be a success in the UK, encourage participants to settle down on comfy mattresses for a nap with no other distraction.
“So many busy people don’t get enough sleep, so these classes are a great way to reinvigorate, rejuvenate and increase productivity with a power nap,” says Alexis Fenton, marketing manager at InspireCyles, where the classes are being trialled.
“Guests have 15 minutes of relaxed stretching supported by music, followed by a 30-minute nap in a naptime mattress complete with blanket and eye mask.”
Fenton says that interest in the class has been growing and is attracting busy corporates and tired parents.
“The classes have been so popular in London and with Australians having a strong work ethic, too, maybe it’s time for a good old fashioned nap,” she says. “I think people are willing to pay because it’s something different to try and you never know how you’ll feel.”
Some of the benefits of the sleep class include increased energy, focus and a higher level of productivity. And judging by a recent sleep study, this is something which we could all benefit from.
The 2017 Sealy sleep census found that one in three Australians missed out on 700 hours of sleep in 2016. Eighty per cent felt like they would function more effectively at work if they slept better, and 70 per cent said their every day performance was impacted by lack of sleep.
Professor Dorothy Bruck is chair of the Sleep Health Foundation. She says that sleep is so important for multiple health reasons.
“Sleep affects every organ in the body and lack of it can lead to depleted attention span, poor memory and the inability to process information.”
“We know that sleep files away memories and disregards things we don’t need to know by cleaning up toxins generated in the day. Sleep is also really important for emotional stability, and there’s a link between poor sleep and increased depression and anxiety.”
Bruck says that people don’t realise these things, so they fail to prioritise sleep. Instead, their priorities are more focused on keeping up to date with things like social media and emails.
“We’re not good at having downtime and a lot of people take their work home and work right up until bedtime. The problem with this is that they then can’t wind down or turn off and don’t establish a regular sleep routine.”
When it comes to napercise classes, Bruck says that there are multiple benefits. Creating a relaxing atmosphere allows people to feel pampered and induces sleep. She notes this is of particular benefit for those who suffer from insomnia or are a bit hyperactive during the day.
On the flipside, Bruck says that there is something to be aware of.
“All of the nap literature agrees that you should keep naps short, lasting no more than 20 minutes,” she explains.
“If you’re sleep-deprived and have a longer nap, then you’re very likely to go into a deep sleep after a certain period of time. Being woken from this is called sleep inertia and can cause grogginess that takes a while to dissipate.”
“I think offering 25 minutes relaxation to help people unwind, followed by a 20-minute sleep is a bit more about how the science of sleep works.”
When it comes to paying to sleep, Bruck is not surprised that people are willing to part with their cash. A combination of long commutes, sleep deprivation and a lunchtime slump can lead people to feeling overwhelmed.
“I think people are paying for the sleep inducing environment and I can understand why they would want to do this and incorporate relaxation time into their day,” she says.
It’s yet to be discovered if these classes are popular enough to permanently appear on Brisbane’s workout timetable and, subsequently, introduced in other gyms. But if it means an excuse for a bit of shut eye in the day I doubt that many of us would challenge it. In fact, many people may say this is the exercise that dreams are made of.
This article was originally published on The Sydney Morning Herald.
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