Thursday, May 8, 2014

Confessions of a Napster

DEBORAH CROMBIE: And no, I don't mean I subscribe to the music file-sharing service. I mean I am a dedicated napper. Maybe there was a time, long ago (kindergarten?) when I didn't like to nap, but that is lost in the mists of memory.

My love affair with naps began with trips to Mexico in my elementary school and teenage years. Why, I wondered, didn't everyone have "siesta"? And even better, you got to stay up late! I spent the summer I was eighteen in Mexico City with friends of my parents. Oh, it was lovely. Breakfast about nine, with milky coffee, fruit, and those wonderful Mexican sweet breads, pan dulce. Then around two, there was La Comida, the big meal of the day, served formally in the dining room, with courses. And after that, of course, "La Siesta."  Afterwards everyone went back to work or school with renewed energy. Dinner was around nine in the evening. And then there were cappuccinos and much talk in the cafes of La Zona Rosa. (There is always much talk in Mexico!)

I think I knew even at eighteen that I had found my perfect body rhythm, and that has never changed--although it certainly went through adjustments in my child-raising, regular job years.

I have found, writing, that I do very well in the morning (assuming I've had enough sleep), but that
once I eat lunch, even a very light snack, I hit what feels like a brick wall. My brain slows to a crawl. My eyelids droop. The computer screen blurs and my productivity drops to zero. There is nothing for it but a NAP.

It doesn't have to be a long nap. Twenty to thirty minutes will do it. Usually, I wake up full of ideas, ready for my afternoon cup of tea, and knowing just exactly what to write next. And then I'm on a roll until I have to quit to throw the tennis ball for Dax and fix dinner.

For years I felt guilty about this, my little nap secret.

But now I am vindicated!  Researchers are shouting the benefits of naps! They increase productivity, creativity, and improve memory. And did you know that your brain even cleans itself while you sleep, getting rid of accumulated "trash?"

So, REDS, are any of you nappers, secret or out-of-the-closet?

HALLIE EPHRON: Debs, sounds like we were separated at birth. I nap every day that I can. After lunch (YES!) some time around 1:30 to 2:30 I crash. And if I can shut down for even twenty or thirty minutes I'm ready to go again.

So my question: why do robo callers ALWAYS call when I'm about to... or have just fallen asleep?

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: This is so funny..until maybe two years ago, I would NEVER have napped. I suppose that has something to do with being at a job where they would frown on it. But I never felt tired in the afternoon. And I still don't, on my days at Channel 7. But when I am on tour, and crazed, I try to snag twenty minutes and just close my eyes, sitting up on the hotel bed usually, and try to meditate out. I tell myself--"wake up in twenty minutes" and I always do. Then I get up and shake it out a bit. It really makes a difference. Just 20 minutes. I'm never quite sure I'm actually asleep, but suddenly the time is gone, and bing. I'm up.

I never snuggle down in the actual bed, though.  If I did--I'd be there for hours, and wake groggy and needing scrambled eggs.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: OH, my Lord, do I love napping. I mean, I assume I was just as squirmy and anti-nap when I was a kid as most of them are (sleeping, like wine and mushrooms, is a pleasure only shared by adults.) But when I was a permanently sleep-deprived stay at home mom with two under two, I learned to power nap. As soon as those little angels were down for the count, mommy hit the sheets.

I almost never nap during the week, unless I've really messed up my sleep the night before. For me, the best nap time is Sunday afternoon. We get home from church, have a bite to eat, I take off my skirt and pantyhose and climb into bed. No guilt about what I ought to be doing instead - it is the Day of Rest, after all

Three important factors for a good nap? 1.The bed must be made before you get in, so the sheets are nice and smooth and cool. 2. White noise: I put on the bathroom fan and shut the door. The pleasant whoosh whoosh drowns out the neighbor's lawnmower, my offspring, etc. 3. Pajamas! I change into them for the nap for extra comfort. Maybe I should get special nap-only pjs. And while I'm wishing, here's my dream nap setting: a made-in-Maine Penobscot Bay porch swing. Now that's luxury...   

So, readers, how about you? To nap, or not to nap, that is the question...


  1. Absolutely, napping is great! Never too long, and not always every day, but there are times when nothing but a quick little nap will do . . . .

  2. Nap, definitely nap.

    I spend my lunch hours reading in my car (when I can; it often gets to hot here). I usually dose off for 15 to 20 minutes. Then I wake up and keep reading. It works wonders for me, and I definitely miss it on days I do something else with my lunch time or days when I can't because it's too hot in my car.

  3. I love my naps. If I have a seizure I have to nap. No choice. But that rarely happens anymore and I can usually trace it to a lack of sleep the night before, soooo I am very good about sleep now. Most of the time. Sometimes I write all night without realizing it, until I see the light coming into my room from the skylights.

    I am trying to schedule my writing more like Debs wrote in today's blog. Thanks for the good ideas! Tea after the nap.

    And from Hank... no snuggling down in the actual bed! I will try that one!


  4. Let's hear it for power nappers! During my years commuting to my hi-tech job, during which I never got to bed early enough for my 5 AM rising, I'd always start nodding off in my cubicle after lunch. Sometimes before lunch. And it's bad form to be asleep at work in what is essentially a public space. So I'd take myself off to my car, stretch out (and I'm short enough to do that), check the time, take off my glasses, and - presto, oblivion. I'd wake up exactly fifteen minutes later, put my glasses back on, and head back to the cube refreshed.

    Now working at home I do the same, even though I don't get up at 5 any more. Preferably napping on a couch or the futon in my office. Still refreshed.

  5. I love to nap and can usually be found doing so on the weekend days.

    Unfortunately, the day job does not allow for an opportunity to nap during the work week. I do think it would increase productivity all around, but I don't see the "Siesta Theory" being implemented here in the US anytime soon.

    As for sleeping in the car, I am in downtown Baltimore - so needless to say, I think it's a better option to skip the nap during the work week. ;(

    Is it Friday yet?

  6. Gee, I envy people who can nap and awake refreshed. Any time I've attempt to take a nap (except if I was sick) I woke up feeling MORE tired than I did before the nap. I'm talking maybe a 15 or 20 minute nap. Then I spend at least an hour, if not more, trying to shake off the fuzzy head I ended up with from the nap. (I have a brother-in-law who can nap anywhere, any time, and wake up cheerful and full of energy.)

  7. My husband used to make fun of me for napping. Until I found out how often he nods off at his desk at the office! Ha. Now on any given weekend afternoon we can be found in our own favorite spots in the house, enjoying a little quiet time.

    I'm like Hank--twenty minutes, if I can tell myself that's how long I want to rest. It's amazing how often it is exactly that long.

    So fun to see Hank, Kaye, Julia (and Ross!), Edith, Jim Jackson, Reine's photo, and a host of other familiar names and faces at my first Malice!

  8. I've discovered that one of the many advantages of retiring from an office job is that rather than tossing and turning when I awaken too early in the morning, I can get up, knowing I can take a nap in the afternoon.

    I need to keep it at 45 minutes or less otherwise I awaken a grogamuffin.

    ~ Jim

  9. My new favorite word - "grogamuffin!" love it, Jim!

    Naps - yes!

    Naps rock. And like Kristopher, while I don't see the "Siesta Theory" being implemented here in the US anytime soon, maybe we nappers can start our own "Siesta Movement."

    Karen, I loved getting to spend a little time with you at Malice, wasn't it fun?

  10. I love that 15-20 minute "power snooze" around 2pm. Unfortunately, like so many others, my day job would frown on that. So I can (sometimes) get it in the afternoon, but never Monday through Friday.

    At least I don't have a 5am wakeup call.

  11. Silly day jobs. I figured enough people stood around in the hall schmoozing for fifteen minutes (or more), I could go nap for same.

  12. Edith, or smoke breaks, right? Too bad my car is parked three blocks away.

  13. I love to nap, but rarely can manage it. However, recently I've been pondering the possibility of rearranging my office furniture and bringing in a couch. The older I get, the more insistent this idea becomes. But I would have to set the alarm on my phone. When I do close my eyes in the middle of the day, I tend to go down for the count.

  14. Disadvantage to getting old: there are times when I literally stagger over to the couch. Advantage to working at home: I can do that without upsetting anyone.

    Phones are set not to ring in the den. I have caller ID, so if anyone calls while I'm "out," I can check to see if anyone called (If you don't leave a message, you don't get a call back!)

    A couple of years ago I took a temp job where I had a cubicle. Not made for snoozing. Happy to be working from home again, where there is a couch, because when you fall asleep at the computer, you sometimes literally leave a long line of zzzzzzzzz.

  15. Love a nap in the late afternoon but I can count on the phone ringing several times. Hate the phone.

  16. I LOVE an afternoon nap. Especially here in California where the air is soft most of the year round and drifts in the window while I drift off for 20 minutes or so. Deb, like you, I came to appreciate the nap in a foreign country. For me it was Vietnam. When I lived there we actually had little mats that we would put under our desks after lunch, and the entire office would take a nap. This was 20 years ago. I hope the tradition still continues.

  17. I missed this conversation originally - I must have been napping! - but I've added by two cents worth to the front page. Also a picture and link to the gorgeous Penobscot Bay Porch Swings, which you should all go look at. I've wanted one since I first saw them at the Maine Home and Garden Show a few years back, but alas, our porches are too narrow to hold anything except a few skinny wicker chairs.

  18. Best investment I ever made--a canopied swing for the backyard. Pillow, feet up, swing gently swaying, no phones, no computer, warm breezes, and I'm in nap-heaven! Now if only I lived somewhere that I could do this year-round!

  19. Julia, I'm not sure which I want more, the swing bed or your nap swing. I had a fantasy for a while of putting turning our old shed into a screened in room, and putting in a bed like that, along with a little writing desk. Ahhhhh. Turned out to be too expensive to pour a foundation for the structure (the original dirt-floored garage.) Sigh.

    I'm so glad to know I'm not napping alone! I'll think of all of us synchronous nappers. Nor are we alone. Here's a fun piece from CNN Money:

  20. I've discovered that my "low point" each day is around about 4pm. If I try to write at that time of day it looks as though I'm typing a pathetic selection of Scrabble tiles. If I can, that's when I nap. But just 20-30 minutes, or else I wake up with what can only be described as a mild hangover. If I can't nap I push through, but I get very floppity around 9pm. Naps are good!

  21. Julia, that's just the kind of porch swing we need at our Kentucky farm. We have what is basically a double-wide (but with a full basement, and a stone fireplace)there. But it has a great porch on the front that is crying for a swing of some kind. The porch is shaded in the afternoons and I can't tell you how often I've yearned to nap there.

    Kaye, it really was fun! Isn't it interesting to see how little different people are than you expect them to be? Knowing each other online is thisclose to knowing each other for real, most of the time.

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  23. Nap only" PJs--I LOVE that idea, Julia!

    And exactly., MAry and Edith! Smoke breaks. I always think--if they get those free minutes, can I have them, too??i

    Kristopher--SO wonderful to see you!! You are such a dear for coming to the signing--and you didn't even fall asleep!

    And KAren, I agree. xooo

  24. I used to set the kitchen timer for 20 min when I worked at the school... great little nap and then fix usually nap for the same amount of time during the NewsHour (PBS) and miss the segment I wanted to see!!!!!!

  25. I'm an involuntary napper, which means that I often find myself late in the afternoon slipping into sleep if I'm sitting in my reading chair. What I don't understand is why I don't just allow myself to go stretch out on the couch for a short bit and take a proper nap. After all, I think naps are a good thing, so why do I fight them. Probably because I have such a proclivity toward staying up into the wee hours and rising later. I think I feel guilty that I would then need a nap, too. Maybe one of these days I'll try to alter my sleep patterns to a more "normal" arrangement, going to bed at an earlier hour. Then, I could luxuriate in a nap instead of guiltily slipping into one.

  26. Oh my god, pan dulce! That brought shivers, my memories are so vivid. Pan dulce with cafe con leche. Heaven!

    I'm a napper, big time. I think my habit started young too. I used to come home from school to find my mom laid out on the bad, napping and reading. (So the reading habit started young too.). I used to join her. I'd stretch out on Dad's side of the bed. Sadly, this was probably the only time I had Mom to myself, not that we were communing. We both liked our fantasy worlds.

    These days it's the Sunday afternoon nap with sunlight streaming into the room ... Here's a question: Why Sundays the classic nap days? Because that was the day of rest?

  27. Ahhh, naps...right up there with snowflakes on mittens and whiskers on kittens. I am always sorry for friends who say they can't sleep during the can that be?
    In the farthest corner of my yard are a hammock and a lawn swing, peacefully co-existing under Acacia trees. If you don't mind waking covered with Acacia needles, it's a wonderful napping spot. After a surgery in January I would go out to my swing, arms laden with pillows, my iPad and a book to while away the afternoons in the name of recuperation. (I'm in California, so this was an option all winter.)
    My Kansas City sister has a swing bed on her sun porch and I covet it more than a flat stomach or naturally curly hair.

  28. If I don't nap during the day, I am sure to doze off when I'm trying to watch something I've been looking forward to. Even if it's full of thrills and suspense. I hate that. So I try to make sure I get a nap of some kind ahead of time. ;)

    1. I also used to nap in my car at lunch time. Or on my 15 minute break. We were allowed to snack in our cubes so I'd just snack on my lunch and then nap. Only prob I had (I had a little timer set to wake up on time) was when co-workers would panic me by waking me up cause I was going to be late. My boss also let us put our heads on our desks sometimes. But even if I put up a sign ON BREAK, someone would come along with an emergency. So unless it was too cold or hot or rainy, I preferred the car. :D

  29. I believe naps are an underrated spiritual practice! To be able to set aside everything that’s clamoring for my attention and simply rest takes some doing.

    Having had chronic fatigue syndrome for over 40 years, I got into the habit of napping long ago. Once I quit looking at naps as intrusions on my productive time and accepted their necessity, I didn’t feel so stressed out and began to look forward to them.

    Now, at 64, I welcome naps as an opportunity to pause in my day and let my racing thoughts and heart rate slow down while I stretch out and snooze a while.

  30. I also used to push back the seat for a lunch time nap in my warm car. So refreshing! Every once in a while someone would tap on the window to make sure I was okay (alive) or I would wake myself up with one of those charming snort/snores.