High-tech napping

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We use technology to make virtually every task in our lives easier, more effective, and less time-consuming. 

Just think for a second about all of the technology you’ve adopted on your farm and in your home. For us, everything from heat detection to washing dishes is easier thanks to technology. 

Technology can make napping easier, too. Napping is one of the most important tasks on a dairy farm. Charging our batteries is essential, and often there aren’t enough hours in the night to fully do so.

Short naps are commonly recommended so as not to interfere with nighttime sleep. I’d wager that most dairy farmers aren’t concerned about falling asleep at night. They simply take short naps because that’s all there’s time for. 

For some of us, though, napping isn’t easy. For most of my adult life, short naps usually didn’t work for me because I couldn’t shut my brain off fast enough in 15-20 minutes. If I did happen to doze off, I often didn’t feel rested after just 20 minutes.

Thanks to the application of a little technology, though, I’m happy to report that I am now a successful napper.

It all started a year ago with a podcast episode that recommended listening to binaural beats as a way to reduce stress. Dairy farming and managing a family tend to be fairly high-stress endeavors — good stress, mostly, but still stress. The podcast said just 15 minutes of listening to this so-called brain wave music was enough to significantly reduce cortisol levels. I was intrigued enough to learn more and give it a try.

Binaural beats use two sound frequencies with one played in each ear. When we listen to binaural beats, our brainwaves synchronize to their frequency. 

For reference, our brainwaves come in five frequencies: gamma intense, concentration and learning; beta, problem-solving and engaging with others; alpha, relaxing and meditating; theta, dreaming and deep physical relaxation; and delta, deep, dreamless sleep.

So, if you want to reduce stress, listen to music with an alpha wave frequency. If you want to sleep better, listen to brainwave music with a delta wave frequency.

I tried the first binaural beats music track that came up in my YouTube search, which happened to be a theta wave frequency. I reclined on the living room floor, put on my headphones, pressed play on the track, and started some deep breathing to help myself relax.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up. I had relaxed myself right to sleep. I looked at the clock. It had been 15 minutes, but it felt like I had napped for an hour.

I couldn’t believe that a 15-minute nap could be that easy, so I tried it again the next day. Again, within minutes, I was asleep. It was like someone flipped a switch in my brain. If I didn’t understand the science, I would swear it’s magic.

The best part of these now-regular naps is that they’re a break for both my body and my brain. For someone whose brain normally goes 100 miles an hour all day long, these short brain breaks are amazing. And, as an added bonus, they help me feel less stressed.

If traditional napping doesn’t work for you, perhaps high-tech napping will. This is the method that works for me. Every brain is different, so a slightly different method might work best for you.

What you need:

— Smartphone or tablet with access to YouTube. You can also find brainwave music tracks by other composers on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. MusicMindMagic is only on YouTube.

— 15-minute relaxing theta waves track from MusicMindMagic. Theta waves work best for me. You could also try a delta waves track. Tracks come in different lengths, as well.

— Over-the-ear headphones. Over-the-ear headphones are recommended since they best deliver the two sound frequencies to each ear. My headphones also have a noise-cancelling feature, which is really nice. I haven’t tried using earbuds; they might work, too.

— Towel or sleep mask to cover your eyes, and the floor or a bed.

Lie down and put your headphones on. Set your phone to silent mode or turn on do not disturb. Set an alarm or timer for 15 to 20 minutes. Start the theta waves track. Cover your eyes. Take three big deep breaths. Then focus on slowing your breathing. Make your exhale longer than your inhale. Count your heartbeats to measure your breaths. For example, inhale for three heartbeats and exhale for four or five breaths.

Within minutes, the combination of listening to the theta waves, slowing your breathing, and counting should put you right to sleep.  

Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 100 cows near Melrose, Minnesota. They have three children – Dan, Monika, and Daphne. Sadie also writes a blog at www.dairygoodlife.com. She can be reached at [email protected].

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