We all know the drill: when you’re little, you’d give anything not to have to take nap. You rail against it. You fight it. You cry and kick and complain. You wear yourself out until you just fall asleep, giving into what you were fighting in the first place.
When we’re older, we’d give anything to sneak in a nap.
Well, at least that’s been my experience, especially here in the US where we value hard work and perseverance over rest and relaxation (generally speaking).
I don’t really remember kicking and screaming and fighting against naps, but man, did I hate the idea of stopping my play in order to take a nap. But what I hated more was that someone told me to do just that.
These days, naps are a luxury. Catching a little rest in the middle of the day is so rare and so special. I look forward to and revel in those days when I can actually partake in this glorious ritual. My naps are sacred. There are rules for napping, rules that cannot be messed with in order to achieve the perfect nap.
Here are my guidelines (not based in science or statistics at all, just according to me):
1. Naps are to be taken in the middle of the afternoon. Any time after lunch is good, but the optimal time is around 3 or 4.
2. Naps are to last between 20 and 40 minutes. Fewer than 20 minutes results in not feeling rested; more than 40 minutes can leave me feeling more tired and terribly cranky. I don’t have to set an alarm. This is the amount of time I naturally nap. The only time I can nap for an hour or longer is if I’m really tired and/or sick. Otherwise, 20 – 40 it is.
3. Naps aren’t for sleeping. Well, they are, of course, but it’s more about lying down and just resting. Usually, I find myself in that sweet spot between sleep and wakefulness, where I am aware of what’s going on, aware that what is going on somehow morphs into a hazy dream. I usually teeter on the edge of sleep but never quite fall. Still, one gets that feeling of peace and rest.
4. Never nap on the couch.
I could nap on the couch, but for some reason, it doesn’t provide the same nap feeling. I hardly ever sleep on the couch. In fact, the only time I do is when I can’t sleep at night and I need a change of scenery. I will go down to the living room, watch a little TV, and eventually lie down and sleep on the couch. But that’s rare. The only other time I sleep on the couch is when I’m sick, because who wants to stay (physically) in the bed all day? Again, change of scenery.
5. The bed must always be made. I cannot nap in a bed that has not been made. It’s the very rare occasion that this happens. If it’s sheet-cleaning day, I wait until the bed has been properly made before napping, even that means delaying a nap.
6. One must use the fuzzy purple pillows (not the night-time pillows) and the fuzzy brown blanket (not the quilt).
The purple pillows are fuzzy and comfy and therefore perfect for napping. One must also use the fuzzy brown blanket at the foot of the bed. Even if it’s a super hot, middle-of-the-summer afternoon, one must always use the blanket, not so much for warmth, but for weight. That little extra weight makes for a great nap.
7. First, however, one must move Mr. Moose off to the side.
One can hold Mr. Moose if one so desires, but one cannot lay on top of Mr. Moose. He will be unable to breathe.
8. Choose the proper music.
I prefer to listen to soft music while napping. Again, it separates a nap from nighttime sleeping. It makes for great ambiance. My choice of nap music is Pandora’s John Denver station. This station plays (of course) John Denver, but also other musicians who are considered easy listening and/or folk, mostly from the 70s. These musicians often include Jim Croce; Simon & Garfunkel; James Taylor; Peter, Paul, and Mary; etc.
The reason for this choice is that this is the type of music that my grandmother always played. She lived alone from before I was born until she could no longer live alone, into my 30s. She always had the kitchen radio on. So this music is one of many soundtracks to my childhood. I have always considered her home a safe haven, one of my favorite places to visit, both physically and mentally, and now that she’s gone, emotionally, as well. This music helps me get there. It’s days full of early morning bacon and grits breakfasts, mid-morning trips to the hardware store and fixing something in the house, early afternoon trips to the grocery store for supper ingredients, mid afternoon naps when she would “get down” on the couch and the house was quiet, and late afternoon sewing sessions when the machine hummed to life. And during all of this, her music was always playing softly in the background.
In essence, it reminds me of quiet and restful, yet productive, days with just an air of loneliness. There’s just no other way for me to describe it.
Whatever music works for you, or silence even, that should be your nap soundtrack.
9. Naps are to be taken alone. It’s very rare that my husband will nap with me. But it throws off my entire game when he does. I can’t sleep in the middle of the bed like I usually do; I have to share the blanket and cannot wrap myself in its fuzziness; and he usually prefers the big pillows to the small fuzzy purple ones. So, yeah, it throws me off. He knows I prefer to nap alone, but every once in a while he trumps that preference.
10. Kitties are optional.
Kitties are optional because it’s really up to the kitty if he or she will join you. In the winter, I can tell Winston that I’m going up for a nap and tell him join me. Usually, he does. In the summer, however, it’s a crapshoot as to whether he will. It all depends on what’s happening in the back yard. Sometimes he just needs to keep an eye on things and make sure that the patio isn’t invaded by birds or chipmunks or frogs or, God forbid, another cat. When he does join me, he usually just curls up around my knees.
So that’s it, my 10 rules for my perfect nap; just another thing I love!