Afternoon Delight


“The Napping Muse” Paper and Acrylics Collage © N. Doany

On Sunday afternoon I did something so deliciously naughty I’m not even sure I should talk about it in public like this.

But I can’t resist.

Let me set the stage.

I’d had a strenuous couple of weeks. Then two late nights in a row. So, I was feeling more than a little weary by Sunday. The sun was shining, but the cold weather was back and there had even been a dusting of snow overnight. I’d been outside briefly in the morning and now had no desire or energy left to do much of anything. Soooo….

I tossed myself on the sofa and had a nap!

Just like that! How decadent! How self-indulgent! How amazingly wonderful!

It had been so long since I’d had a nap. I must have been crazy. Why do kids fight so hard not to nap? It’s the best thing ever. Forty-minutes of flaking out in the middle of the day and I felt like a million bucks. And, I had the best night’s sleep ever that night. For once I didn’t have to fight to stay awake long enough to drag myself into bed and pass out. No! I tucked myself in, read for a while and settled comfortably into sleep for a change.

Actual science has proven that naps can:

  • Decrease stress
  • Increase alertness, productivity, cognitive function and creativity
  • Improve memory and learning
  • Motivate exercise
  • Promote a more restful sleep at night
  • Promote better health including reducing risks of heart disease.

 Here are some tips to perfect napping:

  • Forget about all the stuff you think you should be doing and know that a short nap is the best thing you could be doing right now
  • Don’t nap too late in the day or you’ll nap too long and feel all weird when you wake up instead of bright and perky
  • Don’t eat too much or too much heavy food before napping
  • Find a quiet comfortable place that’s reasonably dark
  • Don’t forget your blankie – it keeps you cosy 

How long should you nap? That’s up to you. Here are the five main types of naps according to Riran Project who seem to know everything about everything:

  • THE NANO-NAP: 10 to 20 seconds. Sleep studies haven’t yet concluded whether there are benefits to these brief intervals, like when you nod off on someone’s shoulder on the train
  • THE MICRO-NAP: two to five minutes. Shown to be surprisingly effective at shedding sleepiness
  • THE MINI-NAP: five to 20 minutes. Increases alertness, stamina, motor learning, and motor performance
  • THE ORIGINAL POWER NAP: 20 minutes. Includes the benefits of the micro and the mini, but additionally improves muscle memory and clears the brain of useless built-up information, which helps with long-term memory (remembering facts, events, and names)
  • THE LAZY MAN’S NAP: 50 to 90 minutes. Includes slow-wave plus REM sleep; good for improving perceptual processing; also when the system is flooded with human growth hormone, great for repairing bones and muscles 

So, really, if you haven’t had a nap since Kindergarten, I highly recommend it. I know workplaces that have nap rooms. I don’t know why they aren’t mandatory in every workplace.


39 responses to “Afternoon Delight

  1. Lazy Man’s Nap is my favorite on a Saturday. It’s just enough to get me ready for Saturday night’s activities.

  2. when i started my first “career” job, i was still going to school and working part-time in retail – i was exhausted. i had this incredibly understanding boss who had a newborn at home. we both had offices with doors on them he said if i ever needed to nap, to go ahead an close my door. i imagine he did the same. honestly, i would be so productive after those twenty minute naps.
    now, sometimes i will find myself with 15-20 minutes before i have to collect the girls at day care. sometimes i’ll set the kitchen timer for 20 minutes, flop on the couch and be out like a light, and awaken refreshed.
    i never used to be able to nap, but i’m quite efficient at it now.
    good for you. i hope it becomes a regular thing for you.

  3. I wish I could nap during the day, since I have middle-of-the-night insomnia and am usually tired every single day. (I’m hoping my doctor will help me when I bring it up with him)

    A nap would help me get my life and brain back.

  4. I LOVE naps! Not that I get the chance very often with kids at home, and my wife hates naps, which is not very conducive to having naps…
    Definitely a guilty pleasure.

  5. J – That’s a little too long for me. But I suppose if I was going to be up until the wee hours that night, it would be a good idea.

    Meanie – I wish. I could really use a nap just after lunch. I usually eat early because I’m up early and have breakfast early, so I’ll have lunch around 11:00, then I go for a walk and then I’m okay for about half an hour and then I get tired. So 20 minutes around 1:00 would be great. Do you think the feds would spring for a small pull-out sofa for my cubicle?

    Hannah – It totally would. You’re way too young to have middle-of-the-night insomnia. Do you eat too much late in the day? Are you getting some outdoor exercise during the day? Do you go to bed too early? Have you tried taking a calcium supplement just before bed? Are you on a regular sleeping schedule (i.e.: you don’t sleep in for hours on weekends and stay up much later than usual?) That’s all I got. Good luck at the docs.

    Ian – Do you need your wife to have a nap with you? That’s not called a nap, Ian. Or will she just not let you have a nap? Because that’s just mean. Pop a quiet DVD in for the kids and go catch 40 winks.

  6. Has anyone else noticed that as we boomers age, the things we want to do are suddenly found by all sorts of researchers to be really good for us?
    After all that heavy thinking I think I;l go for a ittle nap now.

  7. When I was pregnant for the first time and working in an office, I used to sneak off to the bathroom and fall asleep in a cubicle for 20 mins.

    Then when I was pregnant the second time and worked in a busy college this was impractical as you would overhear the lewd conversations of female students in the other stalls. So I used to send my students out on a project and sleep in the lecture room until they got back.

    Outside of gestating I’ve never really been a napper- mainly because if I try my kids find me and tell their Dad on me.

  8. I used to go out to my truck in the parking lot at lunch and nap for 40 minutes in my old workplace. Now that I’m at school and a Person of the Bus, I sure do miss nappy time. I still squeeze it in whenever possible. My kitties love it when I nap, too.

  9. I love napping at the cottage on a Saturday afternoon. I sit there reading and my eyes grow heavy and I scooch down on the couch and just snooze. It’s wonderful.

  10. I’ve always been a napper, ’cause I’m a night person but my life requires me, mostly, to be a morning person. After lunch I get the paper, my coffee and my blankie and mostly make it to page two before the paper goes thump.
    My grandfather could nap with the paper held upright in front of him; you had to look around it to find out he was sleeping. Now, that’s a skill.

  11. Bandobras – What a good observation. Nice to know those boomers aren’t just sitting on their heinies waiting to die.

    MisssyM – Damn those kids anyway. And why wouldn’t Dad want you to nap? Wouldn’t that just make you more frisky in the evening? Or IS that his problem with it?

    Susan – School is one of the best places to nap. Two words: study carrels. Or any quiet corner of the library.

    Jazz – Zzzzzzzz…. Your somnolent prose and languid description lulled me into a state of delightful drowsiness. Don’t you just want to nap right now?

    Alison – Naps AFTER red wine!

    Mary G – Lucky you! That sounds like the perfect afternoon.

  12. I was never a napper until a couple of years ago. I could have used that skill when I worked crazy early morning hours in radio and later as a TV newswriter. But now I have perfected the art, either in my recliner or on the couch. And my body’s internal clock is masterfully skilled at waking me up, three or four minutes either side of the one-hour mark.

    Funny that Jazz should mention the couch at the cottage. Our cottage has the best napping couch. It cocoons you in an irresistible, snooze-inducing hug. Even when I wasn’t a napper, that couch would do it to me.

    Anyone who visits and hears how the couch is such a great “do-do” couch looks at us as if we’re nuts. But if and when they try it, they’re instant converts. My stepmother, who has been part of our family’s life for five years now, can attest to that.

  13. XUP-I’ve tried all of the recommended activities for better sleep, but have honestly been too tired to exercise. (Its a vicious cycle I think) But I’m just going to bite the bullet and start doing it anyway. Hope it is the missing piece in the sleep puzzle! 🙂

  14. All I need is a fifteen-minute nap…usually around 1:30 to 1:45 PM.

    If I was allowed to do that…my productivity at work would DOUBLE.

    I have a good trick, propping my head chin up with my head, and have a technical journal on my desk….facing away from the front of the room. Makes it look like I’m reading work-related stuff.

    I’ve been known to catch a few Z’s that way.

    But not lately. (Hard to do, since I now share an office!)

  15. My father came home everyday from Work at noon, had a light lunch and took a nap until 1:15 and went back to work. He lived to be 83.

    I find if I nap, I stay asleep to long and feel cranky the rest of the day. Okay, crankier than usual.

  16. Never a napper. Mom tells everyone I stopped napping at 11 months old.

    I don’t nap because I feel drugged and zoned out for hours after. Maybe I need to try to make them shorter, as suggested.

    @hannah78 maybe you should go for a sleep study.

    I did, not only was I labeled a professional snorer, they determined that I would stop breathing. As much of a pain in the butt as it is, I wear a CPAP machine when I sleep. I now sleep ALL night and don’t snore. And I feel rested during the day.

  17. Aw, man. I wasn’t able to wake up this morning (still haven’t) and now a blog post about NAPs? This is gonna be a loooong day.

    I totally want a sleep pod for my office. Hm… everyone else in the office is gone for lunch. Opportunity?

    – RG>

  18. Gee XUP, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed upon seeing what you really meant by the title you used for this post.
    My mind went directly to the Starland Vocal Band definition.
    My bad.
    Oh, and yeah – naps are cool. Need more of them. Gotta get my union to work them into the next CBA.

  19. Bob – Funny how we forget napping isn’t it? We hate it as kids, so don’t include it in our lives anymore until we accidentally nap one day and think “Holy hell, why have I not been doing this every day?”

    Hannah – It doesn’t have to be “exercise” exercise – just a walk after supper or at lunch time will do it. Also, see Reeky’s advice – he might be on to something.

    Friar – That’s exactly the time I could use a 15 minute snooze. Too bad we don’t share an office because that would work out brilliantly. We could close the door, draw the blinds, turn out the lights and pretend we’re in conference.

    Cedar – Set your alarm. A simple but effective way of waking up. I wish I lived close enough to work to catch a snooze. That would be primo!

    Reeky – Good advice for Hannah. Sleep apnea can really mess up your sleep pattersn. I was also never a napper as a kid and if I nap too long or too late in the day I feel all zonked, too. It takes special skill and techniques to nap successfully!

    Helen – You could always put on a quiet dvd and sit him near you while you snooze on the sofa. (Maybe also hook him up to a leash so he can’t go far just in case.)

    Grouchy – I know! Reading all these lovely naptime comments keep making me drowsy. Build a George Costanza sleep pod under your desk and slip in there at lunch time. Warning: You may end up never being grouchy again, though.

    Trashee – I deliberately channel the Starlight Vocal Band as often as possible. Do a search up at the top and see how many times they appear. Sorry for being a blog tease. (PS: Are we in the same union?)

  20. I had a micro-nap just yesterday. Sadly I was on the bus home at the time and missed my stop. Had to jump off and walk back past three stops to get home so I wasn’t actually that refreshed!

  21. OH! MY! GOD!
    “It takes special skill and techniques to nap successfully!”

    I don’t know how you can make it through life.
    I used to amaze fellow workers at GM by lying down on a wooden bench in the middle of the factory and napping for 10 or fifteen minutes. All the noise, dirt and general uproar were of no concern.
    People who have a hard time napping have the hard time because they feel guilty.

    Oooh there went 20 minutes I could have used to save the world.

    Relax and enjoy, this won’t hurt a bit.

    Must go and nap again, serenely and with no effort or planning.

  22. I am lazy! I nap whenever I feel like it and feel no guilt! Sleep is good for you, it does all those things they say it does. And besides, my little boy has a bear and a blankie he leaves for me everyday when he goes off to school. It’s a nice substitute for snuggling with him since he is off at school 😦 and cant nap with me anymore.

  23. I’d never checked the science of napping but I’ve told people for years that 20 minutes is the perfect nap. I take naps all the time. Part of that is because I have “waiting narcolepsy.” If I have to wait for anything I get incredibly sleepy. It’s really hard to stay awake in a doctor’s waiting room, so I always use that time to “clean out” my camera and as soon as a they put me in a room, I am out. I even fell asleep waiting for tires to be put on my car. I fall asleep in the salon sink while the rest of my haircolor is setting up. I’ve missed one plane and almost missed another from falling asleep in the waiting area so I never sit down in there anymore. The worst is when I am driving and have to wait for a train. I have to smoke a cigarette to keep myself awake. Oh and after all those waiting naps? I do always feel very refreshed and alert.

  24. Loth – No, no, this is a good thing. Not only did you get some much needed rest, but you also got some exercise! You go, girl!!

    Bandobras- Well, not feeling guilty is a special skill, isn’t it? And why are you napping now? How strenuous can retirement be?

    Lebowski – Why did you HAVE to start napping every day at 3:00? Very intriguing

    Charlene – Man, you stay-at-home moms have it made. I wish I could do that again. I only had 5 years of it. Those were the days.

    Jobthingy – I know. It’s da bomb, isn’t it?

    Geewits – I have waiting anger issues. I wish I could just fall asleep, but I get all wound up and frustrated instead. Falling asleep in the car while waiting for a train to pass is a bit extreme though. And a bit scary. Do you put the car in neutral at least?

  25. Hmmmm … the Lion is big on naps. But if he lies down on the couch in the middle of the day, I know he’ll be out for at least 2, if not 3, hours. Seems like a horrible waste of the day to me. I don’t seem to be able to nap myself. I try, but it is very rare that I can fall asleep. I just go to bed a bit earlier if I’m tired.

  26. @Bandobras

    When I was 20, I had a construction job working a jack hammer. And it was exhausting. (And of course, I still went out partying with my buddies at night). So I’d sleep whenever I could.

    During our afternoon break, I remember I would take 10 minute cat-naps. Lying directly on the concrete bridge, using my hard-had as a pillow, and catching a few Z’s (with the other jack-hammers going off around me)

  27. @XUP

    Speaking of which…I had insomnia last night. So today I said “Just a small cat nap on the couch at 7:00 PM”. I’ll have a late supper shortly after.

    Woke up at 11:00! Havent’ eaten. Now it’s midnight, my schedule is screwed again.

    Hmph. Serves me right.

  28. UP – The next time the Lion tosses himself on the couch in the middle of the day, perhaps you could think of a way to keep him awake and NOT waste the next 2 or 3 hours???

    Friar – Napping at 7:00 pm isn’t a nap – that’s an early-to-bed. You probably should have had that nap around 1:30 for 15 minutes.

    Geewits – Phew!! How long and/or slow are your trains anyway?

  29. I remember one of my profs saying that whenever you felt you needed to nap, outside of your usual sleep hours, you should go out and exercise for 15-20mins instead (e.g. go for a walk). Afterward, you’ll feel the same as you would having had a 2 hour nap. Didn’t really work for me.

    Since I’ve been a student for the past 6 years, I’ve had a schedule where I can grab a nap here and there. I’ve definitely taken advantage of it. I get in quite a few naps, probably 4 or so a week. I need to do it earlier in the day, or else I have trouble sleeping at night.

  30. I nap ALL the time. And I never feel guilty. Working what amounts to ‘split shifts’ (or in my case two jobs) means naps are a way of life. If I didn’t nap, I’d never get enough sleep. If I see a clear 3 hours in the late afternoon before I need to go out to work again, you’ll find me snuggled up on my purposely bought, long, comfy chesterfield. Or even in bed. I always wake up feeling refreshed enough to begin my day again. Like right now.

  31. i’m a huge fan of naps, it was hard at first b/c i felt like i was doing something wrong.

    i heard recently that if you drink a cup of coffee and nap for 20 minutes you’ll wake up refreshed with the effects of the coffee taking hold after the 20 minutes.

    i haven’t tried it yet but i plan on it.

  32. Em – I’m all for exercise, but sometimes only a nap will do. After paying a billion dollars for a university education, I hate to say it, but I don’t think professors know everything.

    Violetsky – I have a leather sofa and never, in my wildest dreams imagined how conducive it would be to napping. Every time I sit on it I fall asleep.

    Leah – I shall await the report. It makes some sort of weird sense.

    Lebowski – Oh shut up, you don’t do recreational drugs. And even if you did, they wouldn’t put you to sleep

  33. I LOVE naps… during university, my sisters and I were the queens of napping. My dubai sis and I would drop our textbooks on the ground when our eyes were drooping and tell each other “spot me ten” and then “nap” for 10 minutes, which would often turn into 20, maybe 30, before we would grudgingly get up and get back to studying…
    My younger sis coined the phrase “5 second nap”. As in, ‘I’m gonna take a 5 second nap’ which never lasted less than an hour. She was a nap champion. Come to think of it, she still is…