I have long been criticized by whomever I am with at the time (girlfriend, roommate, parents, whoever) for my love of the good old fashioned afternoon nap. I have been one to take naps after work, or school, for as long as I can remember. A lot of people think I am just extremely lazy, or that I should work out more, or some other such thing in order to combat my desire to nap. The problem is, I don’t always nap because I am tired, I nap because I truly enjoy a nice afternoon snooze.
Over the years, my schedule has varied quite a lot, there have been many variables at play all the time, yet my desire to nap never waivers. Perhaps I should be the subject of sleep study, I don’t know. My day to day schedule in the past 5 years has gone from 21 credit college course schedules, to 9-5 work schedules, sometimes I work out 5 days a week, sometimes I don’t work out at all. What I have always done, is nap.
My usual day usually goes something like this: Wake up around 8:30 or something relatively close to it, get dressed, go to work. During my day at work I am totally awake and alert, even having only gotten an average of 6 hours of sleep the night before. I drink some coffee in the morning and after lunch, not so much to combat sleepiness, but more because I simply love coffee. I leave work around 4:30 and get in the door from work at around 4:45. I change into something a bit more casual, and lay down on the couch for a quick nap. If I get home late, I will skip my nap as I know it will interfere with my night time sleeping schedule. I usually sleep about an hour, sometimes more, sometimes less. Then, I get up and do whatever it is I have to do, or want to do with the rest of my day, and I get to bed some time around 1am. I have always been a night person, whether it be to watch movies, play games, or just sit up. I have no idea what it is but going to bed before midnight is simply not an option for me unless I am simply exhausted.
While my nap is an integral part of my day, as I said earlier, it is not normally a requirement due to tiredness. It is usually a combination of slight boredom, and a simple enjoyment of naps. I have to say that laying on the couch after a long day of work and snoozing for a little while to wake up totally refreshed an hour later is one of the most enjoyable things in life. Its the small things. Oh, and my nap must be on a couch. I have no idea why, but if its not on my couch, it just isn’t the same.
My writing this is prompted by grief I receive from everyone around me about my desire to nap, and the recent evidence I found that I might not be so abnormal. It make me go digging around for more information on the subject.
Many people feel a mid-afternoon slump in mood and alertness, especially after a poor night of sleep. Many believe that this slump is caused by eating a heavy lunch. However, in reality, this occurs because we were meant to have a mid-afternoon nap.
Several lines of evidence, including the universal tendency of toddlers and the elderly to nap in the afternoon and the afternoon nap of siesta cultures, have led sleep researchers to the same conclusion: nature intended that we take a nap in the middle of the day. This biological readiness to fall asleep in the mid-afternoon coincides with a slight drop in body temperature and occurs regardless of whether we eat lunch. It is present even in good sleepers who are well rested. Sleep researchers have also discovered that the afternoon dip in mood and alertness is associated with poorer performance, particularly after a night of sleep loss, and a simultaneous increase in sleepiness-related accidents. In fact, deaths from all causes show a secondary peak in the afternoon after a nocturnal peak, presumably from sleepiness-related accidents
A quick google search reveals many articles written about the benefits of naps, and on the contrary, a search about why naps are bad returns many less results. In fact, if you search for things that are bad about naps you’ll find most of the returned results are articles about how naps are good, and not bad, the word bad simply comes up in the context like “Myth: Naps are bad for you”.
I should also point out that some of the greatest minds in history were some of the most legendary nap takers.
Thomas Edison napped in lieu of sleeping at night. He believed that sleeping was a waste of time, “a deplorable regression to the primitive state of a caveman.” but he napped frequently and for long periods.
Albert Einstein felt that his daily naps ‘refreshed the mind’ and made him more creative.
Winston Churchill scheduled his cabinet meetings around his daily catnaps.
Salvador Dali napped in his armchair, holding a spoon over a metal pan on the floor below. When Dali hit REM Sleep and lost muscle tonus, the spoon would fall from his grim, band the metal pan and awaken him.
So this goes out to you, my friends, family, and most importantly my girlfriend. Next time you see me napping, just think of all the great things it will help me do, and how it truly is a healthy part of every mans day!