The Art of Napping

May 9, 2009

7 min read


I come from a long line of nappers. After all, my people mastered the Day of Rest.

"What's your secret?" she asked examining my eyes and pores. "You had a little chop chop?"

"No," I replied.

"A little shot of something?"

"Nope," I answered.

"Then why," she sighed, "do you look so radiant and rested while I look haggard after a long day?"

"Well," I intoned knowingly, "I nap."

"NAP?!" Her snort suggested she preferred a beauty secret she could buy.

Yes. I nap. I call it my time release Day of Rest, taken in 20 minute installments. In days of yore, the Jewish people bestowed unto the world the idea of the Sabbath. I attain what I call "Napture" through my daily non denominational "Nappath." No candles or devotional mantra required. I just nap.

In days of yore, the Jewish people bestowed unto the world the idea of the Sabbath. Allow me today to introduce the Nappath.

I admit with shame that for one ambitiously fraught year, I was thinking of how I could make money teaching the lost gift of napping to the world, by franchising and leasing naps worldwide. The concept, of course, occurred to me while lingering in the netherworld of a nap. I would become the Talmudic Scholar of naps.

That day I dream dozed an entire business plan for non denominational ‘Nap Classes.' I awoke writing all the details in an uncharacteristically frantic post nap state. I would train the nap instructors, issue nap licenses for a fee, lease portable ‘napbacks,' build a chain of "Napture" stands in airports, malls, and office buildings and rent them for an even larger fee to travelers and cubicle workers with no napping lair. I would form co-napper clubs -- chaperoned naps for singles having napping in common. I would write a book, go on Oprah, tour the unnatural world. My fame and the nap legacy would grow. I could work from home or the finer hotels in the suites outfitted with my very own "Divine Divan Nap Laps."

I got so excited I couldn't nap for months! I became short tempered, short attention spanned. Spent, I arrived home at three one day, tumbled into my barcolounger (invented by some nap addict), raised the footrest to invite a 20 minute trip. And after that deeper nap whose content seemed dictated from a higher consciousness, I awakened knowing it would not be right to patent what is God given. Why, it would mar my calm, attained by the very gift I was about to exploit for profit!

My nap wisdoms shall be given freely. I will donate my legacy here with nary a thought of what I might get in return. I hope I am rewarded from the Heavens for my unselfish behavior – with a long life of restful naps. Let us begin:

The most successful, joyful "Naptures," in my experience, share these conditions:

  • The optimum naptime is between 3 and 4 pm.
    One begins to feel a normal fatigue at 3:30 pm. It is an hour when many frequent the commercial purveyors of the drug caffeine and waste a precious twenty minutes seeking, purchasing, drinking, chatting pointlessly with others with whom one only has that habit in common, then relieving oneself of the infusion. But if one observes keenly (a skill the nap will enhance), the body really wants to nod out, retreat from the workaday world. The inner voice of this world is shrieking "I want a nap!"
  • The duration of a nap must never exceed 30 minutes or be less than 20.
    It takes the novice several moments to at first believe they are actually going to nap in the middle of an afternoon. It takes the average person a few weeks to accelerate the technique of slipping into the nap mind, then slipping easily out.

    The nickname ‘catnap' is apt. One wants to be able to spring into action at the drop of a chew toy. Forty is too many winks, 20 to 30 winks ideal.

  • Never lie back beyond a forty five degree angle.
    Legs should be raised, shoes removed, belt loosened, but torso and head must stay at a diagonal slant to the hips. One is going from sitting to a slight recline. A flat, firm surface, is recommended, pillows discouraged as sleep scars might occur. A lowered car seat works well, if parked safely facing uphill.

    No moisture must be allowed to seep and harden in the corners of the eyes or the lashes: for females, make up would smear and smudge; for both genders, eye rubbing could cause possible lash loss and redness. Tearing eyes send the body diving from the edge of R.E.M. dozing into deep six sleep. Also, re-fluff the back of the hairstyle, which may appear misshapen -- a dead giveaway if you are in an Agnostic, anti nap environment.

  • The body must remain uncovered in summer, covered lightly in winter.
    Clothing must be worn at all times to remind the body that this is merely a nap -- ‘don't get too comfy,' this says. In fact, a slight cooling of the body during the nap can be quite pleasurable, a sensual component.

    If the room is too chilled, you may cover the body with a light blanket, sheet, or coat, with one caveat: one leg up to the knee must be exposed at all times. This is to make the body aware that you will be stepping out into awakeness in 20 to 30 minutes!

  • Integrate the surrounding sounds into the nap.
    Attempts to silence the context lose one the joy of the layering of the outer world onto one's inner world. The bliss of dozing guilt free with the din of others' activities, laborers working, children fighting, birds chirping noisily, woven into the tapestry of the nap, or ‘napestry,' as I like to call it, cannot be exaggerated. Feel the rapture of the napture ritual consume your psyche.
  • Weave any background noise into the tapestry of the nap, or ‘napestry,' as I like to call it.

  • Eyes should only be lightly covered.
    Attempts to blindfold the eyes can confuse the circadian rhythms and induce deeper levels of sleep. And of course, there is the mascara problem for women, and the deepening creases for men that come from tight coverings. Laying a light cloth across the eyes will dull day or office light. Again, the integration of the environment reminds the body "This is just a nap!"
  • . It is imperative that you not go to sleep!
    If you do, you run the risk of :
    A. Awaking too grouchy to function for the rest of the afternoon.
    B. Appearing rested to those without the privilege of a nap refuge.
    C. Disrupting sleep patterns later in the evening. Sleep is far less effective than a good nap during the daytime. It leaves one disoriented.
  • If you have trouble discerning the difference between nap and deep sleep, here's the criterion:

    If irrational or illogical thoughts begin to generate involuntarily, WAKE YOURSELF UP! This discipline took me quite a while to master. Drifting from drowse into seductive sleep one day, I found dark thoughts that I didn't think, suddenly surfacing, involving the neighbor who was talking loudly on his portable phone right outside my window. I awoke with a jerk.

    After 10:30 in the evening, it is quite permissible to cover up with a heavy comforter, recline to horizontal fetal, and dive. Let sleep have its way with you for a full eight hours.

    One must long hone these skills before one experiences the exhilaration of the Creative Nap. Many inspirations, insights and solutions have occurred in this twilight of consciousness. Franz Listz reputedly wrote his haunting "Lieberstraume" ("Love's Dreams") while under the influence of the nap muses, and simply scribed it on awakening.

    One final suggestion. Many neophytes worry they won't be able to locate the slot in between awake and asleep. This keeps them from trying. Counting sheep is maddening, counting breaths nerve-wracking and makes the nap shy about arriving. ("Am I napping? Now am I napping?") much like the announced sneeze ("I'm going to sneeze..ah...ah...I'm going to....Oh. Where did it go?") I find that reading a long, educational article at that crucial forty-five degree angle, twice if necessary, can make the eyes into....a happy....natural...napture.

    *Disclaimer: The author is not responsible for bodily injuries incurred during napping.

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