Catching 40 Winks

I haven’t met many middle-of-the-roaders when it comes to the subject of daytime naps.

Now I’m not talking about the occasional daydream when you’re doing a mundane or repetitious chore, or the close-your-eyes-for-five-minutes sort of respite in mid-afternoon. I’m referring to the practice of laying down and drifting into Nod for a half hour or more while the world carries on without you.

In many countries, a siesta (Spanish for the sixth hour after sunup, or 12 noon) is commonplace, perhaps because of the heat of the day, perhaps because of the size of the midday meal. And some people certainly seem to need a break from their everyday routine. In fact, one 2007 study indicated that folks who nap are 30 percent less likely to die of heart disease than those who don’t.

I’ve resisted napping most of my life. If truth be told, I suspect it started when I was pre-elementary school aged, and my mom insisted we kids take a nap every day after lunch. To sweeten the pot, she promised a quarter to the one who fell asleep first. Not being particularly interested in working that hard for a measly 25 cents, I of course was the last to drift off, if I ever did!

Even today, Mom is a napper, and all her close friends seem to know it. The phone doesn’t ring, the doorbell doesn’t chime, the TV is turned off while she grabs forty winks.

I once had a boss who was another staunch believer in naps. Every day after lunch, Miss Dot would ask one of us girls to wake her up in 45 minutes or so while she took a snooze on the couch in the ladies’ restroom. I remember going in there and finding her curled on her side, face to the wall, peacefully catching some zzz’s, and I always marveled that anybody could fall asleep in such busy (and smelly!) surroundings!

When I was pregnant with My Favorite Domer, I was working in pharmaceutical sales — luckily for me, I was managing my own time and territory. As soon as I’d made my last call, I beelined home and curled up on the sofa, where I promptly fell fast asleep for at least an hour. Nothing like hormones to turn a person into a napper!

But MFD took after me, I guess, and, after enduring naps for a couple of years, finally swore off them. To this day, he enjoys a “quiet time” mid-afternoon, but for him, that means he’s on his computer, playing music, or some such.

About the only times I succumb to naps now are when I’m sick or after that Thanksgiving or Christmas Day feast. People blame the tryptophan found in turkey as a sleep-inducer, but it could be something as simple as deviation from the norm — eating a BIG meal mid-day, when I’m used to lighter fare.

At any rate, that 2007 study also suggested that if you get a chance to nap, you should take it, and if you’re used to napping, you shouldn’t stop. So don’t feel guilty about napping — besides restoring your spirits for the rest of the day, it just might save your life!

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