“I’m going to take 20 minutes,” my dad said almost every day. Despite the activity level in the house he would lie down on the couch, close his eyes and pop up 20 minutes later with a smile on his face.
It was napping perfection.
Dad may have been the most gifted napper of us, but all of my born-into family respected the nap: Unless there was an emergency, we let the napper nap.
During all of our holiday celebrations, after gifts and brunch, or following dinner and clean-up we would all stretch out and fall asleep. It was a tradition we all needed.
Personally, no nap made me grumpy. My mom would tell me, “You are being (a naughty word that rhymes with witchy), go take a nap.”
But the family I grew myself? Not nappers. Nope. None of them. I have to hide and sneak naps. This situation puts me in a quandary: Nap and be woken up or don’t nap and be grumpy?
“I’m going to fold laundry” sometimes works. Or I tip-toe off to my bed, or hide out on a seldom-used basement sofa; I’ve even quick-zzzz’d in a closet to hide from the Nay-Nappers.
They don’t respect the nap.
“Can’t you see I’m asleep?” I say after one of them starts talking to me despite my horizontal position and closed eyes.
“If you were asleep you wouldn’t be talking,” they say.
“No. If you respected the nap, the nap wouldn’t be talking.”
When my first two were babies, my husband Brian would watch them while I went grocery shopping once a week. I shopped, sure, but I also took quick naps in the Target parking lot.
I just needed 20 minutes!
But teenagers sleep a lot, Susan.
Not mine. They probably go to bed a little earlier than most but the only way they nap is if I need them to do something.
“Bekah,” I said, “can you come into my office and be my muse? I want to write something funny and I need you to be a musing.”
“That wasn’t funny.”
“Bekah?” Only 10 minutes later, she’s asleep.
(I tell this story because it just happened.)
I went to my second-tier muse, Google, which led me to science.
The National Sleep Foundation’s website (sleep.org) taught me why Mom’s Go Nap (Susan) strategy worked: When we sleep cerebral brain fluid pumps faster than when we are awake and washes away the waste products made by our brains.
(Science behind my grumpy behavior: I have a dirty brain.)
I read on and collected more ammo for my pro-nap stance.
The NSF organizes naps into three categories:
Planned (Napping before you get sleepy or know that you have to stay up late).
Habitual (Like little kids on a schedule or my dad: same time every day).
Emergency (When you need to sleep NOW and NOW shouldn’t be while the car is still moving).
All seem wise; all seem smart but, as the foundation site pointed out, the misinformed stigmas of napping are alive and well:
Some think that a nap “indicates laziness, a lack of ambition, and low standards.”
But…science! They cited study after study which prove that a 20-minute nap produces benefits in terms of reduced sleepiness, improved function and cognitive performance.
Awake, alert, and with higher functioning (and clean!) brain. I see no low standards here.
There was more science about the benefits of sleep, but I don’t need science to tell me what my dad and mom taught.
Respect the nap, People.
Respect the nap.
Susan Vollenweider lives in Smithville. For more of her writing go to thehistorychicks.com.