Napping made The Week magazine’s list of Things They Said Were Good For Us in 2019. It was number one, not that they were ranked, but the fact that they mentioned it first is not for nothing.
For regular, healthy people, napping for at least 5 minutes twice a week or more is beneficial for heart health. They don’t know why, but a study of over 3,000 adults showed that people who nap are less likely to have heart attacks (The Week, December 27, 2019, v19:956-957).
When I was approved for services from the Washington Dept. of Vocational Rehabilitation, I listed as one of my disability factors, the fact that I was unable to get through the day without taking a nap. And I was serious—if I didn’t get my nap, I would literally konk out where I was. I fell asleep in many public places. Even when I got back to solo bike touring, I had to build naps into my touring schedule. They were often on transit like trains, buses and ferries. Sometimes I noted parks along the way that looked promising for a light snooze. I kept my backpacker sleeping pad accessible in my bike bag for such times.
Before I got hit, I used to get drowsy at work every day sometime around 2:30 in the afternoon. I would brew a fresh pot of coffee and sip at it constantly right up until quitting time. It physically pained me to have to stay awake. After I lost my job, I indulged in many afternoon naps rather than brew coffee at home. I was amazed at how much better I felt when I wasn’t constantly forcing myself out of bed before I was done sleeping, then forcing myself to stay awake until I caught my second wind around 9 PM and found it hard to go to bed. Letting my body rest when I was tired—why is that a rarity in our culture? So many of our jobs could accommodate free-form break taking.
For years after I was hit and my body had to knit 15 bones and repair what seemed like acres of soft tissue, I napped several times a day. I rarely read more than 10 pages without falling asleep. I’m going back and re-watching TV series that I slept through during those years, and they’re new to me.
Now, after my day’s exercise, I usually take a 20-minute nap with one of my cats. I wake up refreshed and ready to resume the day.
Last weekend, like many people with guests over the holidays, I went to a movie. I hadn’t had my nap that day and we were just a few hours back from an adventure in Canada. I knew it was going to be a stretch to go, but didn’t want to make my travel companion slow down to my pace. I missed the first half hour of Little Women because the minute they turned the lights down in the theater, I konked. My friend tried to wake me up, to no avail, I was out cold. I enjoyed the hour and a half of the movie I did see.
I’m sure there are a bunch of people from the Department of Vocational Services sitting in a bar tonight, shrieking with laughter over me—“Can you believe she used needing a nap as a disability?” But it’s part of a large number of issues that add up to not being able to adhere to a schedule in a designated office. I need the flexibility to manage my own day. Millions of us could do that without affecting anything but the degree of control our bosses have over us. We would be healthier and better at our jobs.
What about you? Are naps part of your routine? I’m going to grab a cat and snooze for 15 minutes while you tell me about it.