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?
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!
- Traveling the world
- Being Awesome
- Building things
- Blogging about how awesome early retirement is
- Caring for children
- Contributing to local community groups.
- Did I mention Being Awesome?
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!
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…