It’s 2:17pm, after lunch, Your lids are heavy. You’d do anything to lie down and close your eyes just for a minute. But you still have a bunch of work to do. Should you do what you always do – head to Starbucks for your grande Americano and power through?

Or is there a better way for your brain and body? 

Studies back up what I always knew deep down. Napping is good for you! Yes! A nap can bring back mental alertness, improve mood and short term memory. A short snooze will make all that work you have left to do come out better and with more clarity.

I just took one right here at my Pilates studio! I was up before 6am, taught five sessions in a row and have been returning emails, writing. I could just feel that brain fog and fatigue slowing my thoughts. I closed the shades, set my phone for 35 minutes and laid down right on the Cadillac.

Now I’m awake and back to work and better for it. In fact, I feel downright energetic again.

Naps improve your performance at work. They improve memory and give you a quicker reaction time.

Did you know that when you’re sleep deprived the hormone, Cortisol spikes up and make your body hold onto belly fat? Cortisol is best known as a stress hormone – fight or flight response. But it also affects your digestion and metabolism.

You could fill your cup and grab a chunky chocolate chip cookie (my personal fave) to give you a boost – for about 30 minutes. But the cortisol spike coupled with the extra sugar will turn right into more fat.

Or try this – just lie down and refresh. All those Italians can’t be wrong with their afternoon siestas! It’s so American to feel guilty about something so pleasurable and good for you. It will be your new secret weapon for staying slim because that pull towards caffeine and sugar will weaken its grasp.

I can already hear the comments…

“Molly, you’re nuts. I work! I can’t nap in the middle of the damn day!”

Are you sure? Do you have an office that you can close the door? Can you escape to the privacy of your car? Do you live close to work and could go home for lunch and lie down for 15 minutes? Next time you feel that pull, instead of reaching for more coffee or carbs, take a little nap. Your body and your brain will thank you for it.

I know a nap isn’t always possible. Another good choice is to move! Stand up, stretch your arms above your head. Do some jumping jacks or take a walk around the block. Getting the blood flowing will wake you up without sugar and caffeine.

There are some do’s and don’ts to make a snooze work for you.

Do– Keep it under an hour. I’m partial to the 35-45 minute stint. I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to get back to it. Napping for too long can leave you feeling groggy and out of it for the rest of the day.

Do – Create a calm, dimmed space. Draw the curtains, change out of restrictive clothes and let yourself relax. Make a ritual out of it.

Don’t– nap too late in the day. Timing also matters. If your snooze is too close to bed time, it could affect your night time sleep. Best if it’s before 3pm, depending on your bedtime.

Don’t – let anyone make you feel guilty for taking care of yourself! Try this.

Allow yourself a short nap on some days you need it and see if you have an easier time keeping weight off. You have to have a healthy, balanced diet and exercise too!

I’d love to hear your results.