I count it as a certainty that in paradise,
-Tom Hodgkinson, British writer and editor of The Idler
Judging from the way my family feels about napping, this must be true. Time spent in the comforting refuge of bed and blankets, head cradled by pillow or arms and legs wrapped ’round a pillow, somnolent with nary a care in the world…that may very well describe paradise. But not for everyone.
Occasionally, I give in to a midday snooze. Unfortunately, I don’t always wake up feeling refreshed. Sometimes I feel worse; headache, groggy…and sleeping longer than I had wanted. Sometimes my mind is too busy sorting thoughts and ideas that it is difficult for me to tune out and enter into slumber. Instead, I prefer to choose a quiet activity to settle down with. I might read or go on my computer or listen to music. For me, time spent like this can be very gratifying.
For others, the tradition of siesta is just what’s needed. The word siesta comes from Spanish, meaning “the sixth hour”. Six hours from dawn would bring you to midday, or noon, when the sun is at its peak in the sky; a good time to get out of the hot sun, in warmer climates, enjoy a hearty lunch and doze off. I have to admit that when I am at work and enjoy a hearty lunch, I am more inclined to doze off. That would be the perfect time for a siesta, or maybe a little power nap.
The idea of the power nap has been around for centuries, believe it or not! The idea is to get just a brief amount of sleep (anywhere from ten to thirty minutes) before your body starts to go into its usual sleep cycle. Going into the usual sleep cycle without completing it can result in waking up feeling groggy, disoriented, and more sleepy than before the nap. Sounds like the problem I have with naps, right? So the idea is to get just the right amount of sleep at the right time.
Artist Salvador Dali practiced a version of power napping. He would fall asleep sitting in a chair, holding a heavy metal key between his finger and thumb. The hand holding the key would be positioned over the arm of the chair, above a plate. As he nodded off, his finger and thumb would relax, eventually releasing the key. The moment that the key sounded on the plate below, Dali would wake from his slumber. Simple, but effective!
If you enjoyed learning about Dali’s sleep trick, you might like to read about the sleeping habits of seven other famous men:
So where do all these thoughts about napping lead me? To respond to Tom Hodgkinson’s quote at the introduction, I will count it as a certainty that in paradise, the words “apnea”, “insomnia”, and “narcolepsy” do not exist! 😉