Saturday, 13 November 2010
Ah, the nap. One of my favourite mid-life discoveries. I was too energetic, antsy and - let's face it - caffeine fueled to appreciate the art of napping until I hit my 30's; now that I'm in my 41st year, I find that napping is one of those under appreciated pleasures I simply cannot live without.
To those of you who might say that napping's not an art, or that it's a luxury few can afford, I acknowledge that the pursuit of the perfect nap is not unlike the pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee: elusive and often disappointing, but oh so satisfying when you do find it.
To me, a really good nap has to be unplanned. It's not something you thumb into your BlackBerry calendar or block off on your day planner. A truly gratifying nap can only occur when you stumble upon a block of time in your day that you suddenly realize can in fact be sacrificed to the gods of slumber.
A nap should be at least 20 minutes long. But snore for longer than an hour and you'll wake up feeling more sloggy than refreshed. Snoozing should enhance your evening sleep, not supplant it. But the 20 minute thing is what makes napping so accessible. We can all find 20 minutes in our day. We just have to be willing to look for it, and sacrifice it on the altar of sleep.
I don't think you have to have kids to fully appreciate the restorative powers of a good nap, but it helps. After Jade came along, I quickly learned that crusty dishes, mountains of laundry, dust elephants and full email inboxes all paled in comparison to a snooze on the couch with her nestled snugly on my chest. I couldn't have survived the long nightly nursing sessions without those treasured daily naps. Baby Dylan's arrival has helped me rediscover the beauty of a good sleep, housework be damned! When I spy him snoring away with his arms thrown over his head in that utterly vulnerable, utterly content way only children have, I remember the inherent pleasure of a good nap and lay down beside him to partake of some zzzzs.
There's a good deal of guilt one has to overcome in order to perfect the art of napping. In this age of addictive social networking, high self-expectations and super-parenting, it's hard to stay offline, pursue a career, keep the house looking beautiful and dream up new ways to educationally entertain your kids. Naps? Ha! Those are for lonely, lazy people! Underachieving slackers! People who don't eat right or work out enough! Right?
Well, all I can tell you is that even on my most energetic days, naps have saved my sanity countless times and become a simple act of self-preservation. I come up with some of my most creative ideas as I'm drifting off to happy nappy land. I'm a better spouse and mother when I've taken that precious time out of my day to recharge. Trust me: napping is more than just an art we should all attempt to master. It's a life preserver in our hectic, scary-busy sea of life.