Why is napping culture having a hard time taking off in the US?

Other countries prioritise rest and relaxation, but the US continues to put hustle culture on a pedestal

Olivia Hebert
Los Angeles
Saturday 16 March 2024 18:55 GMT
How does sleep affect mental wellbeing?

Napping culture hasn’t taken off in the US like in other countries.

From siestas in Spain and Nigeria, riposas in Italy, and idlip in the Philippines, people around the world proudly practice napping. But in the United States, napping is considered a sign of laziness and a lack of ambition.

A byproduct of the American dream, hustle and grind culture reigns supreme in America, with many workers often avoiding time off or breaks to get even more work done. Rest isn’t considered a priority to our collective detriment. In activist Tricia Hersey’s 2022 bestseller Rest is Resistance, Hersey argues that prioritising rest in your daily routine can be a form of resistance against the capitalist grind.

In an interview with NPR, Hersey explained, “Our bodies are a site of liberation. And that brings into the somatics the idea that wherever our bodies are, we can find rest.”

“Naps provide a portal to imagine, invent, and heal,” she added. “Our dream space has been stolen, and we want it back. We will reclaim it via rest.”

Although younger generations have pushed back against hustle culture and actively embraced rest on social media by coining the term “bed rotting,” there’s also the other half of the internet obsessed with wellness that touts their “sleepy girl cocktails” and 10-step skincare routines.

While the latter may seem innocuous, it is often glorified as an aspirational version of self-care, while “bed rotting” is often seen as a product of laziness and can cause anxiety that we aren’t doing enough by simply resting.

American culture champions workaholism, but at the end of the day, that compulsive need to be more productive isn’t healthy. According to the State of Sleep report from 2023, the data indicates that the US is largely a sleep-deprived nation, with one in three adults reporting trouble sleeping. An estimated similar percentage of people nap once a day, whether they truly need it or not.

A so-called sleep economy has gradually emerged as more Americans struggle with sleep deprivation. A variety of products like natural supplements and CBD edibles as well as blue light and sound machines have been a hit among consumers. Hostage Tape - a brand that sells a tape-like strip of fabric that keeps your mouth closed to prevent snoring and help your breathing - was among several sleep products that went viral last year.

The Sleep Foundation says that a periodic nap - specifically midday - can enhance alertness, mood, and memory, and reduce stress. When we get sleepy during the day, it’s typically the body trying to make up for an energy imbalance so that we can continue to function properly. Ideally, experts recommend people take naps that last between 20 and 30 minutes so that they can avoid grogginess and falling into a deep sleep.

By taking a nap at midday, we can work with our circadian rhythms and take advantage of the natural dip in energy around that time of day. However, it can be concerning if you regularly doze off throughout the day, especially at inopportune times like waiting at a traffic light.

There are over 100 different sleep disorders out there, including the deadly sleep apnea, that could be the reason lurking behind your lack of rest and sleep. Scientists have long found a correlation between poor sleep quality and detrimental cardiovascular conditions as well as issues concerning mental acuity.

Oftentimes, our sleep patterns are also influenced by genetics. According to a study by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the amount of sleep you can get can be affected by at least 80 different genes.

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