One third of American’s do it. The other two thirds are missing out on a sublime art, the art of napping tactically. To those of us that have perfected the pleasure of a time out in life, you are in good company. Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Leonardo da Vinci, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy and damned near every uniformed services member on the planet has napped. Respectfully, it is believed that John Kennedy accomplished a bit more than most of us during his afternoon snoozes, but that is another story. I am writing this piece so that nappers and non-nappers alike might appreciate this under rated and delightful habit!
First a disclaimer. I am a world class napper. Anytime my head and butt are on the same level, it is as if I am equipped with an internal tilt switch. Some might call it a blessing. My grades reflected the uncanny ability to nap through incredibly dull classroom sessions, such as in a basic philosophy class in college where the focus was on stuff that really made no difference to me. When I see a rock, I see it as a rock, and seldom take the time to ponder on the significance why it exists. In Artillery School, after a night of hazing and merriment, I fell asleep while in the “chair” position against a wall in a classroom, sliding down the wall like a snake that has spotted a juicy frog. Napping, folks, I have down.
NASA research has confirmed the value of napping. They found that a 40 minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness by a whopping 100% in the time immediately following the nap. Their research also indicated the alertness improvement lasts for hours. Other research has indicated that napping is most beneficial late in the day, as a result of flagging body rhythms. In terms of time, most sleep experts feel that 15-30 minutes is ideal for a power nap. Because of the patently incorrect perception by the snobs among us who disavow the obvious advantages of napping, finding an ideal location in the middle of the day can be a chore. You need little noise, reduced light and a semi if not all together reclining posture. This is frowned upon in the office or front seat of a Patrol car. Caffeine is not a nappers friend, although when younger I could limit myself to, say, 6 cups of coffee, lie down and the switch would activate with sleep commencing in minutes. An important part of napping is the elimination of guilt. You must be secure enough in the appreciation for a nice power nap to make it a priority in life. You may be ridiculed when you show up at a staff meeting after an unashamed snooze in your office chair, but when the fireworks start, you’ll be the guy or gal leading the discussion! Trust me here.
I have napped on the front deck of a bass boat floating gently in the back of a cove on a spring afternoon as well as in the relative discomfort of a rapidly constructed deer stand 10’ off the ground. On one occasion, another fisherman, fearing the worst, gently awakened me on the bass boat deck with a flick of his rod. Not only did I confirm my status as a living being, I scared the hell out of him with my reaction, fearing a snake had decided to nap with me. On another occasion, my napping in a tree, while hunting, resulted in a rather undignified fall through the limbs of a pin oak, damaging only my pride. I developed a taste for ground blinds and discovered they were a nappers delight. Just sprawl out and enjoy the cozy windbreak while you miss every turkey or deer in the woods as they parade by.
Okay, by now you get the picture. Bill Clinton, another fearless and shameless napper has been captured on film napping at places like a Mets Game or Mr. Reagan’s funeral. He loved to nap…..at least that is what he called it at the time. He is quoted as saying, “when I nap, I imagine a big hole in the back of my head and focus on that until I fall asleep”. I have no way of knowing this, but being married to Hillary, and sleeping always with one eye open, as must be the case for a man caught in such dire circumstances, a nap would be your salvation. Falling asleep in a crowded church during the funeral of a dignitary, would have to be the least of his concerns. Dropping his guard around Hillary could prove devastating.
To the one third of Americans who nap, salute! To the other two thirds who view it as a total waste of time, come clean. You know you nap when no one is looking. Join us and strip the shame off of a beautiful part of life. That part where you temporarily check out and charge the batteries that power the smile of a refreshed human being!
Have a great weekend!