Yawning babyBy the time you’re an adult, taking a nap seems like a luxury. Often, it feels like you’re cheating somehow. This is because naps are so good. They feel too good at times, in the middle of a busy life. Something that feels so right just can’t be. And yet, napping was once an essential aspect of our lives, strictly regimented by our parents to make sure that we would grow up to be healthy, happy, and ultimately productive human beings. Yet, once we get there, napping seems like a waste of time.

In many cultures, napping is a matter of course. After lunch, taking a siesta is just part of daily life in many parts of the world, enabling all of the benefits that our parents in the more northern hemispheres hoped to deliver to us. A nice nap after lunch means that our levels of crankiness are greatly reduced, our heads are cleared of the noise of being tired, and we’re more focused on what is most important. I think employers should take note. Why not create a space for the power nap in every office? Would that not reduce instances of employee stress? What about the reduction in office conflict due to overtired workers who have had to spend the extra hour in the morning in traffic, instead of in their beds? Let’s take Homer Simpson’s suggestion, when working for Hank Scorpio, that buying hammocks for his team so that they would be more efficient workers is a great long term strategy for increasing productivity. If that strategy can work for an internationally wanted head of a criminal empire, it can work for everyone.

Despite how I feel about the wonders of napping, it is a challenge for my daughter. She, like many adults, feels that naps are a waste of time. She would rather be watching Elmo, or playing in the snow (before the rain washes it away…), or drawing, or dancing. She protests. She fidgets. But, eventually she naps. And how peaceful she looks when doing so. Maybe this holds true for everyone. Research indicates that a need for an afternoon nap can deliver all of the benefits that we had when we were children. There is a certain truth to the fact that a faster pace in life can only be sustained when one is well-rested. And yet more research shows that we are getting less sleep than ever before, commuting longer to our places of work, staying at work longer, and generally having less reserve for the stress that goes along with all of that.

Vincent Van Gogh's The SiestaToday, our entire household took a nap. The morning had been a little bit listless because my daughter and wife were up last night, as Maya is having episodes of sudden waking, and what may be night terrors, something we hope is temporary. I was up writing and reading articles until the early morning – a habit I’ve fallen into after Maya has gone to sleep. My drowsiness was self inflicted, sure. And my wife is the real hero – up with our daughter while I was sawing logs. But the effect was the same – we were all the victims of fatigue. The next morning we were still faced with the last of some Christmas shopping ahead of us. I was wondering how we would kick start that. It seemed like we were all wading through the molasses of a bad night’s sleep. Since we needed to get things done, I was wondering whether or not a nap would be entirely prudent.

But the nap was heavenly. Two hours of bliss.

And when we woke, we were all happy, and ready to go! Christmas shopping done, the Girl got to play and run a little bit, and we all had a nice meal out – a rare treat these days. And partially thanks to our nap, that gave us the extra refreshment to allow us to weather the storms of the Christmas shopping crowds, hunting down elusive parking spaces, and finding inner peace in the middle of yuletide chaos. We stayed positive, and we enjoyed the rest of our day.

All hail the afternoon nap! Good for Mum, Dad, and baby alike.

3 thoughts on “Nap

  1. Never been much of a nap person myself. Even as a little girl at nursery school when all the other kids were ready for nap time, I rebelled. It might have had something to do with the scratchy blankets issued to us but I suspect that I had some idea that I would miss something if I were to close my eyes and go to sleep in the middle of the day.

    These days, I have been known to “stretch out” in the afternoon if I feel particularly sluggish or unwell but I might sleep for 10 to 20 minutes and that will be that.

    In spite of all that I acknowledge the benefits of napping and in fact have read that some employers are embracing the notion that power naps for employees increase productivity. So maybe I should consider shifting my view about the napping thing. It might make me less of a grump.

  2. Rob,

    I’m ALL for an afternoon nap. I do it regularly, as does my husband. We also made sure our kids went down for an hour count each day when they were little. It saves a lot of grief later when we all get crabby! 🙂 Now I’d like America to incorporate an afternoon nap in the workplace. I’m a morning person and around 3 o’clock I’m not good for anything!

  3. Hi MoI,

    My love of an afternoon nap usually comes after I’ve taken it. It’s not a pre-meditated thing. And I almost always forget how good it feels.

    Thanks for your comments, and for your blog too!

    Cheers!

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