The nap is a lost art.
Why has the very idea of an adult taking a nap become so taboo?
Many adults would rather admit to being an alcoholic, dog kicker, or disco lover before ever confessing to being a daily napper.
The very idea of a nap in a professional setting brings with it a stigma of laziness, unproductivity, and sloth.
No matter what they may say, your boss will most likely hold it against you if she learns that you nap. Society tells us naps are for very young children or the elderly – all others are indolent laggards.
Society is dead wrong. Study after study has consistently shown that a midday nap actually increases productivity, creativity and overall mental and physical health.
In their outstanding treatise, The Book of Idle Pleasures, Idler editor and creator Tom Hodgkinson and fellow idler and author Dan Kieran describe the nap this way, “Of all the free pleasures out there for the taking, the nap is the easiest and most satisfying.”
We here at Flip Flop Daily couldn’t agree more.
However, there is an art to the nap.
However, there is an art to the nap. One must walk the line between going to bed and taking a nap. If done too quickly the effect of the nap is lost.
Sleep too long and you’ll stumble through the remainder of the day in that no man’s land of too much nap and too little sleep. Your day is shot and, in such cases, your best course of action is to hit the sack and try the nap again tomorrow.
But a well-done nap cannot be beaten.
You lie down mid-day feeling the weight of what you’ve gotten done and aware of all that remains to be done and close your eyes and drift off to sleep.
You awake feeling completely refreshed and ready to tackle what lies ahead with renewed vigor, determination, and joy.
For me, the sweet spot is between 15 and 25 minutes of perfectly sound napping.
Planned naps can be a little more challenging than the very precious spontaneous nap.
For a planned nap one may struggle with what to wear, how dark to make the room, and whether to climb into bed and get beneath the covers or not. Again, taking a nap is not the same as going to bed so one must know one’s best napping self.
It may take time to perfect your personal nap ritual.
After some trial and error, I have learned that I must nap in my clothes, in a dim but not dark room, on top of my covers, sometimes beneath a light blanket. This recipe almost never fails to produce the perfect 18 to 25-minute snooze.
I am fortunate to work from home and have my bed readily available for naps.
This has not always been the case. I spent many years working in corporate America where hostility for the nap reigns supreme. Though large companies often provide “nap rooms” very few actually use them for fear of stigma.
These rooms serve more like window dressing for unknowing recruits.
I, however, have used them and found them to be a nice place to catch a few mid-day winks and regain the energy needed to finish the workday.
While the planned nap is wonderful the unplanned nap can be sublime.
I still recall with great fondness an unplanned nap taken on a bench beside the lake in New York’s Central Park nearly two decades ago.
It was a perfect summer morning and I’d just arrived in the city via a red-eye flight from Seattle.
It was too early to check into my hotel so I decided to kill time by strolling through Central Park.
I stopped at a bench beside the lake to take in the beauty and awoke half an hour later perfectly rested and ready for the day.
This nap on that park bench is one of the highlights, if not the highlight, from my time in the City. It was perfect.
I’ve put together the following 5 steps to napping to help you along your path to the flip flop life:
STEP 1: Make it a priority. Think of a nap as something you must do and not as something you’ll get to if you have the time. Make time.
STEP 2: Scout out locations. If you’re in a new place keep an eye out for ideal napping spots and ask questions.
If you’re new at your job and notice a consistently dark office, ask about it. A quick,” whose office is that?” could lead to a napper’s paradise. “Oh, that’s Nancy’s office.
She’s on maternity leave for the next four months.” Perfect. You’ve just found a long term napping spot.
Most likely no one will notice and if they do, odds are, they won’t have the nerve to ask you about it.
Corporate culture tends to keep people from asking such things. Advantage napper.
STEP 3: Know your limit. Take just as much time as you need. No more, no less.
STEP 4: Don’t advertise your naps. The reason no one likes vegans is that they won’t shut up about being vegan.
Don’t give the rest of us a bad name. But don’t be ashamed of it either. If people ask about your naps tell them.
You may be the one who helps them find their napping life. But don’t push it. Remember why no one likes a vegan.
STEP 5: Freshen up after you wake up. Check your hair and your clothes.
You can’t look like you just woke up. Remember, you are representing all nappers worldwide so look like you feel – refreshed and ready for the rest of the day.
And there you have it, five easy steps to help get you to your flip flop life.
Not only are naps good for your health they are good for society. Dan Kiernan and Tom Hodgkinson again put it best in The Book of Idle Pleasures:
“It is crazy to work for eight hours or more at a stretch without any sleep. We should take a pillow wherever we go. We need to find corners for dozing, in the church or in the park. A nap will do the work of a million vitamin supplements and energy capsules.”
So Do Life Right and take a nap.