I know one person who is going to have a good laugh as he reads this post. My husband – José. He’s been an afternoon napper since we first met almost 9 years ago! I’d tease him for not being able to resist hitting the bed almost 15 minutes after lunch.
When we got married he’d pester me to come and rest. Somehow, naps were not something that was encouraged when I was growing up. Why even today I don’t think my almost-90-year-old father naps during the day! Somewhere in my subconscious napping during the day amounted to laziness.
In the last year, I’m often the first one to head off for a nap after lunch (sometimes before too) and I find I can’t function without a nap during the day. Midlife, wisdom or the bad influence of my husband, I don’t know, but nap I must. And little did I dream that I’d one day write this post in praise of napping!
According to Dr Sara Mednick in her book, Take a Nap! Change Your Life! human beings are the only animals that try to get by with one long stretch of sleep.
“Let’s look at the rest of the animal kingdom. Do any other species try to get all their sleep in one long stretch? No. They’re all multiphasic, meaning that they have many phases of sleep. Homo sapiens (our modern industrialized variety, anyway) stand alone in attempting to satisfy the need for sleep in one phase. And even that distinction is a relatively recent development. For most of our history, a rest during the day was considered as necessary a component of human existence as sleeping at night. As A. Roger Ekirch, one of the few historians to study sleep, put it, ‘Napping is a tool as old as time itself.”
~ Sara C. Mednick from
“Naps restore you. Even a six-minute nap can improve memory and problem solving. Naps can act as the ideal pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon or while at work. Winston Churchill always tried to take a daytime nap. Many world leaders take “power naps.” Before the industrial revolution, most of the population routinely took naps. Why? Human beings are built that way. As you learned in the chapter on sleep, before artificial lighting from gas or electricity, people normally slept at night and during the day. Our body clocks decree it.”
~ Matthew Edlund from The Power of Rest: Why Sleep Alone Is Not Enough. A 30-Day Plan to Reset Your Body
I’ve always learned that you should never disturb Catholic nuns and priests between 12.30 pm and 4.00 pm, because they would be having their lunch followed by a ‘siesta’. I wondered where the word came from.
Sara Mednick says: “By the first century B.C., the Romans had divided their day into periods designated for specific activities, such as prayer, meals and rest. Midday became known as sexta, as in the sixth hour (noon by their way of counting), a time when everyone would go to bed. The word has survived in the familiar term siesta.”
Call me lazy or whatever you want to, but please don’t disturb me during my siesta time! 🙂
Do you take a nap during the day?
Watch Dr Mednick on YouTube telling us about how to take the best nap.
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