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.  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: \ˈnap\
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!

*No financial return was received from posting photos and links to the websites above.


  1. One of my favorite thing. I love naps. Great for the mental and physical health. My favorite time to nap is during the afternoon. This is definitely a must for everyone.

  2. Couldnt agree more ! I think nap came from snap ! The briefness of it is clearly visible.! However, blessed are those who can take a snooze when they want to - for the rest of the mortals there s always a bad boss lurking in the corner, or screaming kids to manage,and for some they cant get sleep,because they have nothing to do.!

  3. Gyanban, I laughed out loud reading your comment! That's exactly how I feel when I watch my sister sit down somewhere in the middle of a bunch or noise, or it's hot and uncomfortable and she drops off from one breath to the next. It is fascinating and annoying! She is definitely blessed with that ability, no question. As you said, the rest of us mere mortals have to shuffle along as best we can...usually napless and grumpy. ;-)

    ~ Dawn

  4. Savira, I wrote a reply to you and the darned thing poofed on me. I agree with you, napping is healthy & essential! I forgot to add this when writing the blog post itself, but I love napping the most on rainy days when everything is soft and gray, quiet and napping ever!

    ~ Dawn

  5. I'm a weird one, I know.

    I love the concept of naps, but I just can't take them unless I'm sick or *really* need them.

    For one, if I take a one or two hour nap during the day, I feel like I've missed out on the opportunity to do some other leisure-time activity that I really like to do instead.

    Secondly, and most importantly for me, if I take a nap during the day, I can't sleep at night. I've fallen asleep in the afternoon before and that night, I'm up for at least another hour or two longer than I really should be. I do go to bed and read or something, but I just can't fall asleep.

    So naps don't really help me. But I do know I'm unusual in that sense, and most of the world is like you.

    Yet another way I stand out. :)

  6. Dave, naps work for me because I fall into that category of rarely getting a full night's sleep. I'm frequently in the deficit on decent amounts of rest, so a nap really helps. Your comment on feeling you're missing the opportunity to do something else while napping? I feel that way about sunbathing! First, I don't like being hot (gives me a headache), and second, I lie there baking my brain & thinking about all the other things I could be doing in air conditioned comfort! I guess it's all about having the luxury and freedom to do as we choose, and we're all blessed to have those small moments.

    ~ Dawn

  7. I've taken one every day since my children were babies. Won't miss one even today. I'm a definite believer in naps!

  8. Naps are one of the best gifts we can give ourselves.

  9. Hey Dawn!

    For some reason, I missed that you responded.

    Anyway, I know I don't get enough sleep at night, and I do feel tired during the day sometimes. But it never fails. No matter how tired I am, if I take an hour's nap, I'm up all night. Which just starts the vicious cycle yet again.

    I wish I knew why I was like that.

  10. Janie, smart lady you are, for being that mindful and good to yourself daily! :)

    Susan, I couldn't agree with you more and I have vowed to give myself that gift more often.

    Dave, no telling why you don't respond to naps as positively as others do. Everyone has different Circadian rhythms, or it could be some medication you might be on, or just the way your Sympathetic Nervous System is hard-wired.

    Thanks to all three of you for visiting & commenting! :)

    ~ Dawn

  11. Dawn,

    I love the concept of naps & Heidi takes them all the time but I can't take them. I always wake up more tired then when I went to sleep. I've tired short naps & long naps but unfortunately it's always the same, just groggy & tired after taking one. I can, instead, just take time to relax & let my mind go. That change in focus is what rejuvenates me!!

    Thanks for sharing,



  12. Bill, sounds like you're similar in this regard to Dave. Some peoples' Circadian rhythms just aren't attuned to the napping process, for whatever reason. I hate that for you both, as I consider napping to be a true indulgence! Glad you've found an alternative approach that works just as well for you.

    ~ Dawn

  13. I'd love to take naps but unfortunately, like Dave, if I take a nap during the day it will take me an even longer time to fall asleep at night. I have trouble sleeping as it is; takes me 45 minutes to an hour to fall asleep at nights. To top it all of I'm a very light sleeper, the slightest noises can wake me up. How I envy those who can take naps without it affecting their bedtime.

  14. Anahid, I have problems sleeping also. I think that's why naps are so important for me, as they're one of the few moments I truly feel I get some decent rest. I hope at some point to be able to get back into working out with a trainer, because when I do that and work out with free weights, I have a much better sleep pattern going on. Until then, naps rule! :)

    ~ Dawn

  15. This just got me all gnarly happy, grinning from ear to ear. :)


    I'm off to take a nap.

  16. I'm very happy to write something that makes you gnarly happy! Who knew I was that talented?! Of course, I had a feeling you'd like this topic, given that you're a professional napper. Thanks for stopping by. :)

    ~ Dawn

  17. I love When my daughet and I spent time is Spain we loved the siesta. Bri had a hard time grsping that the kids stop and actualy go home for so me time. Although eating at 10:00 pm is a bit hard to get used to. Europeans definately have the leasure thing down and we could do well to follow their example. Another great read!

  18. Deanne, I agree with you about the European mindset! Americans are plugged completely into the rat race, and not necessarily in a healthy manner. Glad you enjoyed this post - I appreciate you taking time to stroll through my archives and get to know me this way. :)