Thursday, July 15, 2010

This art called napping

*Photo courtesy of
Naps - doesn't the very word just make you smile? Well, it does if you're past the age of 8, probably. Childhood is about the only time in our lives when the word "nap" is a bad thing. There's playing to be done, after all....trees to climb, siblings to pester, the whole world to explore in your backyard. Who has time for a nap when all it does is interrupt all the fun? Adults are just weird that way.

Flash forward to adult years and oh my, yes, the concept of napping takes on overtones of sinfully decadent indulgence. Snoozing an extra five minutes in the morning can honestly save your sanity and keep your co-workers safe for one more business day. The thought of snatching twenty minutes in the middle of the day to zone out and recharge can produce a wistful sigh, as very few of us are granted that luxury during the business week.

Other countries are smarter than the United States in that they do recognize the logic behind resting during the middle of the day. Mid-afternoon naps exist and thrive in numerous countries, all of whom embrace a much slower, more sane and, I daresay more healthy approach to life. Naps are a good thing from all perspectives.

Photo courtesy of
For each of us, the ideal nap has its own persona and location. Some prefer their beds with crisp, freshly laundered bed linens and tons of poofy pillows. Others are couch napping afficianados. Many prefer a hammock or porch swing, and there are some who will stretch out on the floor for a quick snooze. My older sister has this incredible ability - incredible to my way of thinking because I don't possess this ability - to nap at will. She can fall asleep at the drop of a hat, in noisy and/or uncomfortable conditions. Not so for me. I have to have quiet and at least a bit of comfort to snooze during the day. But ohhh...on the rare occasions it does happen, I find a nap to be a thing of beauty!

You have to throw in the question of what constitutes a nap, I suppose. Some argue that a nap shouldn't be longer than twenty minutes. Webster's Dictionary defines a nap thusly:

Main Entry: 1nap
Pronunciation: \╦łnap\
Function: intransitive verb
Inflected Form(s): napped; nap·ping
Etymology: Middle English nappen, from Old English hnappian; akin to Old High German hnaffezen to doze
Date: before 12th century
1 : to sleep briefly especially during the day : doze
2 : to be off guard
So, according to the above definition, to nap is to sleep briefly. Those of us who are true nap connoisseurs will disagree and staunchly defend the concept of a 2-3 hour stretch of sleep as fitting into the parameters of a nap. I fall into this category, as sleeping for only twenty minutes actually makes me more tired, groggy and irritable than I was before I napped in the first place! I feel a nap should be at least one hour or longer to qualify as a true experience of the act.

*Photo courtesy of
I prefer a longer nap and cooler temperatures, but there's also something to be said for being outside and catching a stretch of sleep in some shady spot. Fresh air, the sounds of nature around you...that's just pure bliss to fall asleep and wake up to! Some people enjoy napping on the beach, out under the full blaze of the sun. I'm not one of them. Sweating and napping don't go together in my world. I'm more fond of the porch swing nap, as it keeps me out of the sun but allows me to still hear the birds chirping and feel the breeze blowing, smell the flowers blooming as I drift off to the gentle sway of the porch swing.

Animals seem to be the most savvy nap takers around. Watch your cats and dogs - they know the value of a well executed nap! That cold spot on the kitchen floor keeps their tummy cool and who knows, when they wake up, one of their people might be around to dole out a snack.

Perhaps that's another reason we as human beings love naps so much - we remember our own childhood naps in a similar way. Mom would always be there to hand out a snack and give us a hug when we woke up.

We know from a medical perspective that getting sufficient rest is healthy and necessary. The pace of the modern world is such that unfortunately, many people find naps to be their most common source of sleep. This is saddening, as we all deserve a truly good, solid night of sleep. Naps should, in my world, be a treat - that icing on the cake, that cherry on top of the sundae, that extra bite of a delicious meal - something to indulge in with gusto and enjoyment! No agenda, no particular place to be but right there in that spot that invites you to settle in and snooze peacefully, allowing your body, mind and spirit to rest, regroup and recharge.

*Photo courtesy of
I think that porch swing is calling my name....

....and I'm on my way to answering!

There is an art to resting, and one facet of this art is called napping.

Take a nap, my friends. A long, extended, absolutely self-indulgent....nap. It's good for you, and you'll thank me!

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