Friday, November 10, 2006

ETC: Perchance to Dream

I have a headache and my sinuses are killing me. It could be due to barometric changes (read: it's pissing buckets outside). It could be due to the whole milk I used to make my mocha this morning, because we were out of 2% so I had to sneak some of Sam's supply.

Either way, I'm heading off to lie down, perchance to nap. I was on the fence about this idea, but then I serendipitously came across this article:
To be an enthusiastic napper in 21st-century North America is to be out of step with your time and place. In most of the industrialized world, a nap is seen as a sign of weakness, either physical or moral. The very young and the very old nap. Sick people nap.

Bums nap. Healthy, productive adults do not nap.

We are a culture that celebrates action, doing, achieving, an attitude that leads to a disdain for sleep in general. We stay up late and get up early. We pull all-nighters. We'll sleep when we're dead, and in the meantime there's always a Starbucks on the corner.

It's a misguided attitude. A good nap is one of life's great pleasures, and the ability to nap is the sign of a well-balanced life. When we nap we snatch back control of our day from a mechanized, clock-driven society. We set aside the urgency imposed on us by the external world and get in touch with an internal rhythm that is millions of years old.

A nap distils the sweetness of a whole night's sleep down to a few minutes. Ideally, it starts on a soft bed, in a dark room, with a warm blanket. At first your mind lingers on what you've done that day, and what you still need to do. Then your thoughts start to unravel a little, become less coherent, more dreamlike. You feel your breathing deepen, your body relax. You lose yourself; you're asleep. After a few minutes you gradually become aware again of the bed, the room. You open your eyes, gather your thoughts, throw off the blankets. You're a new person.
The article's author, one Kurt Kleiner, goes on to name the many important historical and literary personages (Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Edison, Samuel Pepys) who regularly indulged in naps. He also discusses the biological and cultural importance of sleeping in the afternoons.

So it seems that this "nap" business is something of a tradition, and I am, if nothing else, a traditional kind of gal. Later, comrades.

[via Arts & Letters Daily]

11 comments:

the Weeze said...

Thank you so much for posting about this topic so dear to my heart. I'm going to print out that article and hand it out to all of my friends and family so that they may better understand what I often refer to as my favorite hobby.

I hope you enjoyed your nap. I'm off to take one myself.

Anonymous said...

I've heard you know you're 40 when you miss the naps you refused at age 4 - by that count I'm "40" at age 26...ha ha. The Mr. and I enjoyed a lovely 4-6pm nap just a couple of days ago, and I thought (again) what a luxury they are. Unfortunately, I am SUCH an insomniac that (generally speaking) if I nap, I will be forced to stay up till 1 or 2 am (however many hours I napped past midnight) and it completely ruins my sleep/work schedule for about 2 days.

New book title: The lost art of Napping?

Katherine said...

I personally can't sleep during the day- a combination of constant ideas/thoughts/etc. and caffeination- but almost all my fellow college students nap like they are four. There's even a large Facebook group with that title.

trophycase said...

To say "It is preferable to do something to nothing" is to hang yourself with the rope of culture and good taste.

trophycase said...

I didn't actually say it, but it sure speaks to cultural attitudes.

mellybell said...

I lived in Cyprus for four years, and there they get two hours (something like that) off in the afternoon to take a long lunch and have a nap. I remember we were on a tour of some villages with a Cypriot friend of ours, and at his parents' house, at 2pm, he said "Okay, it's time for a nap." They had bedrooms for all of us and we had a half hour nap before finishing the day. It was refreshing and regenerizing and generally fabulous.

Quillhill said...

I had a nice nap today. It's my favorite way to spend an afternoon, especially when it's raining.

Lovewine said...

Napping needs to be a bigger part of North American culture. I love napping. Summer napping is the bset because it can be done outside....I prefer my hammock. It starts with a little reading and becomes a peaceful slumber When I was a little kid I wondered why my Dad would always nap when he got home from work. He would wake up and be happier and more relaxed....now I know. Katherine Gibson was on BC Alminac(CBC) the other day talking about her new book 'Pause: Putting the Brakes on a Runaway Life'. There was much discussion about the benefit of napping.
Katherine Gibson

anna said...

Heh. I like the idea of taking a nap. When I had the time (ie. when I was at uni) I'd take naps. Unfortunately, they'd turn into all-day affairs. Fall asleep at 2pm; wake up at 8pm. SHIT.

I didn't learn my lesson for years! Maybe I was tired, with all that nothign I had to do all day.

(I can't read the handwriting of your word verification thing! Terrible!)

White Trasherati said...

Since there was passing mention made of a mocha...how IS that Presso working out?
I emailed the company to see if they can ship to Virginia.

Doppelganger said...

Well, as it turned out, Sam woke up ten minutes after I laid down (lied down? I'm drawing a blank on this), so my nap was cut down in its infancy. All outward evidence suggests that Sam's nap was quite refreshing, however. Ah well.

Maya, your comment gave me an idea: a book designed solely to be read whilst preparing to nap. Imagine that you lie down and pick up a book filled with soothing words and ideas that lull you to sleep within pages. I think we have series potential here.

WT, I'm so glad you asked! The Presso is MAGNIFICENT. Not only does it make delicious espresso drinks, it's really, really easy to use now that I'm used to it. Even considering the time necessary to grind the beans and boil the water and steam and froth the milk (which I do using this little gizmo), I can perform the entire operation in 10-15 minutes. And I still take a childish pleasure in using all the gear. If the Presso gives you even half as much as delight as it gives me, my sincerest hope is that the Presso people are able to hook you up with a machine.