Essential Skills For Early Retirement: Napping

If you read a lot of personal finance blogs like I do, eventually you begin to notice that all the posts look the same — Save money, get out of debt, invest in index funds, reduce expenses, 401k’s, IRAs …. and so on.

Once you’ve read that same advice a couple dozen times you tend to finally “get it”.  Am I right?

These days, what interests me more is what people do after FI.  What happens after they’ve crossed the threshold into “early retirement”?

How do they manage finances through a recession?  What new opportunities arise when they no longer have a job?  What skills are necessary for early retirement success?  Those kinds of questions.

Today,  I decided to start a whole new series on this blog to answer the last question — What are the Essential Skills For Early Retirement?

In other words, a series of posts about “How to kick-ass in early retirement” after you’ve crossed into the holy land of Financial Independence.

To start-off this series, I’m going to take an ultra-serious look at one of my favorite subjects: Napping!


Napping Is Freaking Awesome

In most Western cultures, napping during the day isn’t OK during working hours.  Get caught napping on the job, and you could find yourself looking for a whole new job.

Frankly, the skill of taking a cat nap hardly gets the practice it deserves in the Western world.  Most workers are expected to power through the day despite fatigue and post lunch drowsiness… until they commute home and collapse in a heap on the proverbial doorstep.  

Ugh!  Is that really the best way to do things in life?  Wouldn’t it be better to rest when your body tells you to rest?  Most mammals take some form of nap during the day…why shouldn’t humans?

napping dog
Think about it — most animals take some form of nap during the day. Why shouldn’t we live the good life too?

It turns out, napping has been studied extensively by scientists, and there are actual benefits to taking a siesta during the day — improved memory and cognitive function, and potentially better cardiovascular health.  Napping can also improve your mood, reduce stress, and improve your creativity.

That all sounds really awesome, and fits with the theme of making life kick-ass in early retirement — but how much nap time is optimal?

Well, it depends.  A NASA study indicates that longer naps (over an hour) improve memory function, but are not as optimal for maintaining alertness.  Shorter naps may keep you from feeling groggy, but may do less a little less for the cognitive recharge cycle.

Current science seems to indicate that somewhere between 26-45 minutes is the optimal napping time for most people.  But don’t let science get in the way — if you want a longer nap, take one!

If you want a more detailed look into the science of napping, I recommend the book Take A Nap, Change Your Life by Mark Ehrman.


Early Retirees Need Naps Too

Despite western cultural views on napping, I’ve come to appreciate the value of a good nap.  Why?

Early retirees aren’t sitting around watching TV and eating bonbons all day!  We’re still young(ish) and extremely active!  We’re out there kicking-ass and taking names in the world.  We’re accomplishing stuff!

Stuff like:

That stuff.  All that activity can be really tiring too  almost like working a job (only with fewer meetings).

I’m not alone in this opinion either — most blogger early retirees profess to being more active than ever when they finally quit working.  So why should we stick with the patterns of rest and wakefulness that were once required of us during our “career”?

Obviously we don’t have to!


ER Life With Young Children

If you’ve retired early and still have young children, you’ll probably find yourself chasing after the little hellions spending quality time with your child.

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a minority in the personal finance community. (Many choose not to have children despite the benefits)

Young children are extremely active little buggers.  Day and night.  They’re running around at high-speed, exploring the world, and destroying things learning at a prodigious rate — and they NEED naps.  The younger they are, the more frequently they nap too!

quick nap
“OMG!  He’s finally asleep!”  When the kids finally pass-out, grab 40 winks for yourself!

It almost goes without saying that early retired Moms and Dads get tired from all that activity!  So why not spend some “quality time” with your kids even when they nap?  Nap when they do!

Like most kids, mine frequently wake up in the middle of the night (probably to torture me) and I’m already bad at falling asleep.  These two things combined make for many restless nights.  Naps are practically required!

You can bet that when my kids finally go down for a nap, I’m going down for a nap too!


Essential For ER

You might think this blog post is some kind of joke — it’s not!  (April 1st is still a week away!)

Early retirement is all about using your time in life to its maximum.  Napping is one way to achieve that.

When you finally quit that day job, the passion you have for life will carry you forward — you’ll be chasing dreams, learning more, traveling more, creating more, and just plain living more than you ever have before.

It can be exhausting, and you will tire occasionally.  So nap!

Don’t fall into the trap of labeling a nap as “being lazy” or “wasting your life”.  It isn’t.  Naps are essential for powering ahead through life at full-steam.  

You’re going to be more active than ever in early retirement — a quick nap is the perfect way to recharge.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to take a nap myself…


[Image Credit: Flickr1, Flickr2]

23 thoughts on “Essential Skills For Early Retirement: Napping

  • March 25, 2017 at 2:00 AM

    Well said Mr Tako, very timely.

    With the spring comes longer days with more sunlight… and unfortunately earlier starts. My 4 year old was up at 5am this morning, jumping up and down while shouting that he was all ready to go for a bike ride.

    Right now a nap sounds like a splendid idea, though unfortunately the kids have long since outgrown the need for one, and take no prisoners when they spy an unsuspecting parent who has dropped their guard.

    The seldom admitted, yet absolute best thing, about early retirement with school age kids is they go to school during the day! Freedom to nap!!

    Weekends, not so much.

  • March 25, 2017 at 4:53 AM

    Ha! Good to hear there are significant cognitive benefits. We were just discussing how one of the toughest things about the cubicle life was not being able to take a nap when you really needed one. I’ve been doing my fair share of napping these days 🙂

  • March 25, 2017 at 9:01 AM

    Siestas are awesome…I mean, other countries (like Spain) do it, why don’t we?

    I like your focus on “what to do after retirement”. That’s a question people wonder about a lot. Even if they’re FI, they want to know whether they can “fill all their time” in retirement. I’d imagine if you have kids, it’s pretty easy to fill that time. After Jeremy from gocurrcyracker retired, he was wondering how people find the time to take care of kids AND work. It’s a full-time job.

    Before we left, I wondered whether we’d be bored in retirement. And I’m happy to report, it’s never happened! There’s always something to work on somewhere to explore! The only thing I’m wondering now is how the heck I managed to survive with so little free time before retirement!

  • March 25, 2017 at 9:47 AM

    I look forward to napping more once we reach FI! An essentially skill to learn.

  • March 25, 2017 at 10:16 AM

    “OMG!” He’s finally asleep!” We said that a lot, too, when little ThreeYear Jr. would nod off unexpectedly. We’d look at each other with wonder (“The sky’s the limit! We can do anything!”) then inevitably head off to the couch for siesta time. You know your life is well organized when you have time for a nap! Nectar of the gods!

  • March 25, 2017 at 4:40 PM

    Once again Mr. Tako great post. I’m a huge fan of you’re writing as it’s a bit different from most of the FI and Dividend blog site.

    Although napping does sound good, I think I might take a different approach. If I retired early, I’d spend my days doing things I always love and had passion for. Getting back into architecture, history & art. I’d spend my days and evening playing classical guitar while watching the sunset everyday.

    • March 26, 2017 at 12:13 AM

      I think you may have missed the point. We still need the occasional nap even when we’re pursuing our passions.

  • March 26, 2017 at 5:43 AM

    Our oldest is starting to permanently drop naps. I’ll miss the weekend naps. Then again since children are creatures of habit the timing is not always ideal. Still your right, a good nap sounds great about now.

  • March 26, 2017 at 4:23 PM

    This speaks to me on a spiritual level 😀 anything that promotes naps is a-okay in my book!

    I used to nap as a youngen when I did the morning shift at Hungry Jacks (Burger King). As a ‘proper adult’ though I feel like I’m wasting my afternoon and try and power through, generally achieving nothing.

    I must embrace the power of a good nap!
    LadyFIRE recently posted…Eggscellent pets: Frugal and flavourful!

  • March 26, 2017 at 7:09 PM

    This speaks to me on a spiritual level 😀

    When I was a youngen working the morning shift at Hungry Jacks (Burger King) I would nap every time. Now that I’m a ‘proper adult’ I struggle with the idea of wasting an afternoon and end up pushing through like an unproductive zombie. I love hearing that naps are good for you.

    Viva La Naptime!
    LadyFIRE recently posted…Eggscellent pets: Frugal and flavourful!

  • March 27, 2017 at 1:41 AM

    A lot of people say that sleep is unproductive, but I disagree! I feel super recharged after a good night’s rest, and it allows me to work with maximum focus the next day. Productivity actually goes up and I feel great as well.

    • March 28, 2017 at 1:23 AM

      That’s my experience as well, if I get enough sleep I’m more creative and more productive.

  • March 27, 2017 at 6:20 AM

    I like the idea of your new series and will be looking forward to them. I think taking naps are helpful also. I usually wake up on my own in less than an hour and feel refreshed. Pushing yourself all day without a break isnt always the most productive.

  • March 27, 2017 at 6:25 AM

    Wow, really funky. I might have to stop commenting for a while. Why is it putting my PO box here?
    Anyway, I was saying our kid stopped taking a nap when he was 2. Nuts!
    Someday, I’ll be able to nap whenever I want. Maybe when our kid goes off to college.

    • March 27, 2017 at 7:41 AM

      Awww….don’t stop commenting Joe! Your insights are really valuable to me and very much appreciated. More than likely this is auto-complete causing a problem. If it happens by accident, just hit the ‘Click to edit’ link to edit your comment.

      If you want to delete the Auto-complete data in Chrome, it’s under Advanced Settings -> Privacy, then hit the Clear Browsing Data button, and select ‘Autofill form data’.

  • March 27, 2017 at 7:10 AM

    Naps are a great tool in the arsenal of buy and hold investors. In my experience, if I buy something and then forget my password, I usually do well.

  • March 27, 2017 at 6:24 PM

    Agree! I tend to find myself more productive after a short nap. In fact, I did try that several times (a 30 min nap during lunch time when I work from home) and I wake up feeling much more rejuvenated and refreshed.

    Yes my kid is 2.5 years old and she still wakes up quite a few times in the middle of the night and it’s quite torturous for the hubby and I because we just don’t fall asleep as easier as she does (same experience as you Mr. Tako) When we finally get back to sleep, the alarm clock starts ringing and it’s a vicious cycle everyday.

    • March 28, 2017 at 1:21 AM

      Oh, I know that pattern very well. My sympathies!

  • April 24, 2017 at 1:27 AM

    Thanks for sharing some remarkable idea
    I stumbled on this topic on a Facebook group and I decided to read more on this topic. your post has been helpful.

  • October 23, 2017 at 3:44 PM

    I’ve always envied the part of the world that does siestas. I would have been much more productive at work if a nap room had been available. As so-called earlyish retiree, being able to nap anytime is yet another grand luxury of escaping the rat race.


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