The great napping debate

This post was written by Megan on June 11, 2010
Posted Under: burnout and sleep

Great napping debate cartoon

'To nap or not to nap – that is the question'. Well, for some. Not for me – as my previous post: 'Secret confessions from my napping diary' yelled from the rooftops…and then left to lie down.

I appreciate that there are some in our community who feel they are unable to nap. Meanwhile there are some fundamentalist Awake-All-Day people who don't 'believe' in napping.

One for the skeptics

Here's just a bit of information about the value of napping from someone with 'Dr' in front of her name:

“Napping increases alertness, boosts creativity, reduces stress, aids in weight loss, promotes youthful appearance, reduces risk of heart attack, elevates mood, strengthens memory, clarifies decision-making, improves productivity…and feels great!” 
- Sara Mednick, Ph.D. Salk Institute for Biological Studies (California, USA).
And, as a geneticist friend told me, Salk is no slouch. It is in fact, in his words: "The Salk Institute is very very well regarded. Crick (of Watson and Crick, DNA – double helix) was there until he died. It's named after Jonas Salk, the polio vaccine guy."
So I guess these people know about napping. Who knows? The Salk scientists might walk the talk and take naps too. Brilliant, famous and highly-productive people have been known to nap.
Don't believe me?

Well, here's another vote of napping confidence by James Mass (another person with a 'Dr' in front of their name) identifying nappers who, if they don't have 'Dr' in front of their name, have led countries. With the exception of Ronald Reagan.   
"Famous nappers include Napoleon, Edison, Einstein, Churchill, and Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton" – from Power Sleep by Dr James B. Maas, Ph.D.
All in the family

My father is a committed napper, by the way. Always has been. I wonder if napping is, for some of us, a hereditary gift…. Could it be in the genes? I emailed Sara at Salk to ask about it, but haven't received a reply yet.

Is there anyone in your family who naps?


SARK – again

I mentioned this book before, but what the hey: Change your life without getting out of bed. It's by SARK, who doesn't have a 'Dr' in front of her name, but she talks about napping in a way I relate to – and perhaps others with burnout might relate to as well:

"During my many years as a starving artist and rejected creative person, I retreated often to naps to restore my sanity…These naps were a resting place to heal the broken places and go forward with life again."


The groggy problem

Some people choose not to nap because they say they feel too groggy afterwards. According to SARK (and my own experience), synchronised napping is part of the art. As SARK says:

"Experiment with how long you nap, and try waking up at 30-60-90 minute intervals. If you need to nap miniature or micro, do it at 5-10-15 minutes…..Grogginess is usually a sign of waking up at the wrong time for your body.' 

Still not happening for you?

If the above exercise doesn't give you the sanity napping gives others, then – as SARK suggests – become a 'nap admirer'. In the West, we are already experiencing a strong cultural shift towards napping acceptance (of course, Italy and Spain are already well-versed in the nap tradition). 
Napping helps many of those with burnout. But it also helps prevent burnout. That's why I'm harping on about it so much (being my third post on napping to date – there might be more…).
I'm taking my pillow and quilt to the streets… 

…and asking others: Do you think napping is important for a happier society?


Take my Nap Around the World Tour

This post was written by Megan Hills. Megan is a writer and cartoonist who wonders if she was a cat in a previous life. Find out more about Megan

Reader Comments

I find on busy days there is a point where my brain just stops working.
If I lie down for 20 minutes the mental clarity and energy come back with a vengeance.
I tried longer naps when I first started feeling the impact of long work days but these were too debilitating. Through trial and error I have learnt that 20 – 30 minutes is enough to give me a reboot without falling into a deeper slumber that I can't recover from
I can't survive the day without them now and recommend them regularly.

Written By Valerie on June 11th, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

You have some interesting friends! :)  Thanks for another terrific post – it has inspired me to nestle in for an afternoon nap.

Written By Mona on June 11th, 2010 @ 3:27 pm

Long live the nap! I am a devout napper, especially in winter afternoon sun. When a little swatch of sunshine has so deliciously warmed the quilt cover, who in their right mind could resist? And I have to say how much I enjoyed the 'Nap around the world tour' – I'd planned to comment the day I read it, but wandered off for some shut-eye instead. I knew you wouldn't mind. :-)

Written By Sara on June 12th, 2010 @ 5:37 pm

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