No Nap Zone Here
I appreciate the value of a quick break — but I won’t take mine lying down
A lot of my friends — who, by the way, are not toddlers — are nappers. Grown adults. Successful people. Parents. Responsible folks. They swear by brief interludes of shut-eye to get through the day.
I am opposed fundamentally to the practice for myself. To me, it’s like a teaspoon of nirvana, a teeny taste of utopia that must be stopped before it gets going. So I respond by refusing to nap at all, anytime, anywhere — okay, except for a long flight when I do not have work to do.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends a 30-minute snooze, saying that it improves mood, alertness and performance. I don’t know about you, but if I fall asleep, I am not alert when I wake up. I am still drowsy. And I am not necessarily in a good mood — I am wishing for more.
The same foundation committed to everyone getting mid-day yawners also professes that the international napping club has some pretty amazing blue ribbon nappers: Napoleon, Thomas Edison, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan and Albert Einstein. More current nappers are Katy Perry, Taylor Swift and Lena Dunham.
It’s not that I think nappers are slackers — clearly they are not, as documented by iconic nappers throughout history. They just have more acute internal clocks. My fear is that if I lie down, my body will think it’s bedtime and not rouse for five or six hours.
On the other pillow, nappers can jump right back into a fast pace after a quick doze, but when I wake up I need to go through an entire morning routine — coffee, shower, read the paper, check emails. I am all in for sleeping or not at all. This is why I do not even dare to enter a mattress store — and there are plenty in the western suburbs — to try out a really squishy, puffy, expensive mattress. I might not get up so quickly.
Napping is a lot like snacking. I know nutritionists who recommend small amounts of food throughout the day instead of larger meals. But I want my sleep in REM-soaked chunks — as long and as deep as I can get away with while still meeting deadlines. I can’t take my sleep piecemeal. I want the whole snoring sleepover at once.
And I know my sleep patterns as well as I know my snack patterns. It is impossible for me to have a handful of French fries, potato chips or peanut-butter filled pretzels. I have to have the whole bag, just as I have to sleep through the entire six-hour portion of the day, not just a slice of it. Maybe I do not have enough self-restraint. I’m not disciplined enough to nap a little, so I dare not try.
I also really like a luxurious sleep environment. I love my fluffy pillows and crisp sheets that smell like fabric softener. I can’t just lay me down to sleep anywhere, no. Not on a random couch or chair. It has to be not too soft, not too hard, but just right. And my sleeping environment also has to be dark, so that pretty much eliminates daytime snoozes.
My friends who nap swear by the rejuvenation of a little shut eye. I hear them, and sometimes I see them, but I know if I started to rest, I would go whole hog, rousing only to turn and adjust the comforter. So I best not tempt fate. I need to stay away from nap temptation. I can’t get just a little bit of sleep. I want a lot and I want my sleep deep. I do believe in refreshers — just not the horizontal kind. I take breaks to walk around the office or outside now that the weather is turning warm and spring like.
I do step away from my laptop and engage in different activities to give my mind a rest — return a phone call, doodle a bit, complete a non-work task. I believe in a change of pace, just not in the nap form.
Of course, throughout history there have been firm defenders of nap time. Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci, Margaret Thatcher and many others whose names are not in textbooks have benefited from a sneaky snooze now and again. I just happen not to be one of them.
So go ahead and grab a little bit of a rest. I am keeping my options and eyes open for other opportunities to recharge and renew. I’ll be the one who is awake.Edit Module