How A Nap Confirmed I Was Depressed (and) What I Did When I Awoke

How I Discovered Depression Naps

I encountered acute stress and anxiety over this last summer that strained my head and heart with seemingly equal immeasurable force. At its peak, I remember going home for lunch and simply napping for 45 minutes. I could have easily enumerated things that may have helped my immediate situation – I instead choose to shut down.


I was exhausted – burnt – done. My emotional tank was empty – bone dry. I barely had the desire to make it to the next hour. I distinctly remember giving myself what felt like a veiled suggestion that ‘other paths’ existed out of this. None of that though. A nap would do.


Upon awakening I was momentarily lifted – enough to pull out my journal to note this very consequential event. After all, I had just put myself down a nap in the middle of very busy day knowing full well that delaying action only made things worse.


In a haste I jotted that exact note into the journal and dashed off mask in hand. You know, the mask that hides our pain and suffering in front of our family, friends and colleagues. Determined to just ‘make it’ until the evening, I donned my mask and made it through the afternoon at the office. Work can distract you from the problems sometimes – today was not one of those days, but I managed to pass off as ‘fine’ nonetheless.


The hours pass and finally I limped out of the office – happy to be home if nothing else. I’ve made a habit out of putting my journal out when I get home and this time my eye caught the note I left myself some hours before. It seemed as if written by another person now. There it was – plainly telling me the longer I hold in the pain the worse it will get.


A healthy step I took next was to walk the dog with this thought on my mind. By the time I returned home some 30 minutes later I had a mental list of how I was going to address my issues straight away. Relief seemed tangible.  Simply having a plan brought some relief to me. This importance is not lost on me, but is the topic of it’s own post perhaps?


Depression Naps Go By Many Names


Katie Heaney over at The Cut seems to call them ‘fear naps,’ or ‘stress naps’ was were discussed in the piece.


“Most people, in the height of genuine fear, aren’t going to be able to just fall asleep,” he says. “And if they are, I worry about that.” Feinsilver and Reisinger alike point out that there is a line between the restorative stress nap and attempting to literally sleep one’s troubles away. “If they’re under so much duress and stress that they essentially just throw in the towel and give up, then that looks more like depression,”


Dr. Steven Feinsilver, the director of sleep medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital

According to Dr. Curtis Reisinger, clinical psychologist at Zucker Hillside Hospital


Restorative stress naps are more akin to fear naps. Depression naps are more of a surrender to the enormity of the emotional overload. Though these would seem to make the problem worse on its face (i.e. avoiding the problem) – the step back can provide a moment of clarity from which one hopefully chooses to simply take the first step. For the first step often proves to be half the thing in and of itself.



If you are prone to depression naps, you are not alone. Your research in reading this hopefully raises your self awareness around the subject. The next time you feel like taking a nap in a depressed state, try to do so consciously – it’s OK. When you wake though, try and resolve to take that one first step to seek relief or help in some manner.