Contemplation: Lay Back, Take a Nap

I am a little shocked in discovering that I may not have ever written a blog post about one of my favorite activities around, that of course being the “nap” mentioned in the title of this piece.

Oh, the nap, how few things surpass it in overall comfort and enjoyment in life, and yet, how often it is overlooked or disregarded as a sign of laziness.  I could argue that my love of napping is a matter of faith due to it being the subject of this Dudist piece of writing, but really I was an avid napper long before I discovered the excellence which is Dudism.  You see, I think napping might be a pursuit of the ideal, to find a moment to relax and escape the world for a little bit in the midst of a hectic day.  And because I think it is such a good thing I am saddened that I am unable to do it as often as I think it would be beneficial to.

I began to develop an appreciation for napping at a young age, because I grew up in a household of nappers.  Both my mother and father were (and still are) avid nappers.  Now I want to preface that this in no way means that they are lazy people, in fact both of them are very hard working, they just enjoy the brief little respite from the day which naps gladly provide.  So growing up I learned to enjoy a siesta time, especially on weekends (mostly because I was at school during the ideal time the rest of the week).

I took this background with me when I went to college and tended to schedule my course load in such a way so that I could arrange to take a nap on a daily basis if I so desired (and I often did).  In many ways my four years of college were like the napping golden years because it provided me a great amount of opportunity to just lie down and fall asleep for little whiles.  And I insist that napping was instrumental to my success in school mostly because it helped me clear my head a bit on a daily basis.

Now, I live in the working world, and once again, like during my grade school days, I have to reserve napping primarily to my weekends.  This saddens me because I so do love a good little nap, but alas such is life.

I believe the world could benefit greatly if, on a daily basis, people just put aside their work or feeling of urgency, and closed their eyes for a half-an -hour.  I believe that this is the whole value of the nap, not laziness, but a chance to just relinquish, to escape from the noise and bustle and stress, and just find replenishment.

I would love to see a business institute a half-an-hour (or so) quiet time, besides the daily lunch break, when people could just get away from work for a bit.  You couldn’t force anybody to nap, but if that was desired then that would be fine.  I wonder if such a hypothetical business would see an overall benefit from offering this to employees?  Personally I think they would.

Of course, sadly, we’ll probably never see such an experiment, on such a large scale, put into implementation, because we live in a world of the hustle and bustle.  Especially here in the States, we seem all too often to live our lives with this sense of mad urgency, and thus we are quick to deem anybody who tries to take a breather as being lazy.  This is tragic, because ultimately we lose some of the value of living.  We rush by life and then one day realize how much is gone.  Sure, during a nap we might not be awake to the world, but at least we’ve slowed down and taken a moment to reconnect.

The art of napping is becoming a lost thing to us.  A nap is not intended to be a long wasteful sleep (though describing any sleep as wasteful seems strange to me) but instead a short little shut-eye.  I’d say that a nap, in general, should not exceed an hour.  I would further argue that it really should be at least fifteen minutes long, otherwise you are not getting the full potential.  Of course there are exceptions to both cases.  Sometimes you really do need to just take the long nap to regain your energy.  Other times it is beneficial to just close your eyes for five minutes.  Napping has some sort of skewed bell curve for the ideal.

The other end of the art of napping, beyond the amount of time committed to a nap, is in regards to what time of the day is best to take said nap.  I believe the best time for a nap is any time between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm.  Of course this is where the scheduling comes into problems because most people work during these times of day.  I sometimes take a short nap after work, around 5:10 pm, just to pick me up a little bit to finish off the rest of the day.  I very often do this on Friday afternoons because I very often find myself out and about on Friday evenings, and the quick nap after work seems to reenergize me for the night.  On weekends I definitely shoot for the early afternoon nap, assuming I am not involved in anything else.

The third part of good napping is where to nap.  In many ways I’d say that this is probably the easiest part too (length of nap can be hard to control without a lot of practice, time of day for taking the nap might be interfered with by other responsibilities).  Where to take a nap?  I’d say anywhere that you can find yourself comfortable.  I have personally napped on my bed, in my car, in various chairs, on lawns and park grass, on mountains (after a hike), on beaches, on subways and buses, always on planes (napping on the plane is like the only good part about flying), once on the roof of a house, on a porch swing, underneath a table, etc, etc.  Shy of volcano lava or pits of knives, syringes, and glass shards you can nap almost anywhere.

So here would be my challenge to people, especially those who doubt the greatness of naps, try taking one every once and awhile.  A nap isn’t a chore, in fact it is the exact opposite.  find a place to lounge, open a good book or turn on some good music, then let your eyes close and just don’t worry for a little while.  I think you might find that you really like it.

~ by Nathaniel on September 24, 2009.

One Response to “Contemplation: Lay Back, Take a Nap”

  1. […] whether Americans should be taking more vacation time (and certainly in regards to my piece “Contemplation: Lay Back, Take a Nap” written a little less than a year ago) I am pleased to point readers to the Room for Debate […]

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