Sunday, March 10, 2013


There are lots of things to love about Sundays.One of them is the chance to take a nap. Especially today, when Daylight Savings Time is back so the night was a little shorter, a nap was a welcome part of the day.

When I was a girl,though, I hated taking naps. I recognize now that part of the reason I had to take naps when I thought I was too old for them was so my mom could have a little break in the day. But I was the oldest, so I took them longer than any of the others. And I was never a good sleeper--even as a baby, I apparently didn't sleep well or long. So naps were just awful. I would just stare at the ceiling (I grew very familiar with the concept of dust in beams of sunlight). Somehow, now, though, I really like naps.I am not sure when the shift from hating naps to liking them occurred, but that's how it goes.

I decided to look up some information about naps and found this funny quote: Consciousness--the annoying time between naps. And I found a list of famous nappers on a blog that I think is pretty interesting (whole blog post is interesting and link is posted below):

  • Leonardo da Vinci took multiple naps a day and slept less at night.
  • The French Emperor Napoleon was not shy about taking naps. He indulged daily.
  • Though Thomas Edison was embarrassed about his napping habit, he also practiced his ritual daily.
  • Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, used to boost her energy by napping before speaking engagements.
  • Gene Autry, “the Singing Cowboy,” routinely took naps in his dressing room between performances.
  • President John F. Kennedy ate his lunch in bed and then settled in for a nap—every day!
  • Oil industrialist and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller napped every afternoon in his office.
  • Winston Churchill’s afternoon nap was a non-negotiable. He believed it helped him get twice as much done each day.
  • President Lyndon B. Johnson took a nap every afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in order to break his day up into “two shifts.”
  • Though criticized for it, President Ronald Reagan famously took naps as well.

Anyway, I found that there is kind of a disagreement about the value of naps. Some scientists advise short mid-day naps as a way to improve learning and attentiveness. Certainly as someone who teaches in the afternoon, I recognize the challenge some students have after lunch, not just a challenge for learning but even for staying awake. Other scientists, however, suggest that napping in the day interferes with the night-cycle sleep. I know this, too, as it can happen to me on Sunday evenings. My nap means I don't want to go to bed at my regular time, so I end up staying up a little later and then being tired on Monday morning when I should be up for work. So, I get the interruption problem.Several sites suggest that naps should be no longer than 30 minutes, which I guess is to avoid the problem of interrupting night sleep. And several sites also suggest that just resting, without actually sleeping, can provide similar benefits to actual napping.

So, I guess that tells me something. I won't feel too guilty about my Sunday naps. But I will also try not to be grouchy when other Sunday activities--meetings, service, family--keep me from a nap. But I don't know if there's anything I can do about my students taking naps in my class. One site suggested exercise in place of a nap to achieve the same mental benefits; I guess we could dance again, from time to time.

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