5/22/2011

Sunday Afternoon Naps

Consciousness: that annoying time between naps--Author Unknown


Ever since I was young, I've been conditioned to take a nap on Sunday. It was a day of rest, so naturally everyone in my family conked out after attending church. For the most part, Sunday naps were more of a tradition than a necessity when I was a child. It was just something I did, even though I naturally had a lot of energy any day of the week. I'd bury myself under a huge pile of stuffed animals, snuggle with the biggest one, and take my playtime adventures into the dream world so as to not annoy my exhausted parents. I used to wake up 30-45 minutes later. Refreshed and ready to go start another pretend adventure with my ever-faithful plushy companions.

Interestingly, over twenty years later, the Sunday nap tradition continues. Now, without any threats of sitting in the time-out chair, I still grab the biggest pillow I have on my bed and catch a few Zzz's. Actually, more than a few. On an average Sunday, I can hibernate for several hours. I sleep. I dream. I might even snore.  It seems that I am almost incapable of taking small power naps on Sunday--it's always for ridiculous amounts of time, and if I don't let my body shut down and reboot itself, then I get a Sunday headache-something else that seems to be a family tradition. So rather than putter about  with that irritating ache in the back of my skull, I do the adult thing and let myself sleep.

There is nothing more rejuvenating than the famed Sunday afternoon nap. On any other day of the week, a nap is simply a way to make up for that time I stayed up 'til 4 a.m. reading a particularly gripping novel or playing an addicting online game. It's a way of coping with sleep deprivation, and yet for some reason I always feel a touch guilty when I nap during the weekday. That annoying little voice that says "You need to get something done right now," just won't leave me be. But oh, the glorious Sunday nap is something to be savoured. No commitments. No rush. No shame. Just me and the back of my eyelids.

I've also learned not to fight it. Occasionally on Sundays, I have to work a morning shift at my job-which means getting up at 5 in the morning and then managing the front desk until a few minutes before I leave to church. Don't judge me prematurely, but I find it extremely difficult to stay focused while listening to the speakers. Sitting down for any length of time tells my body that I'm in a comfortable place and that it's finally OK to sleep. Unfortunately, this also means I look pretty darn strange to the people sitting next to me.

Though my ears are obediently open and concentrating on the valuable life-lessons that are being taught, my eyes take on a will of their own. They rebel. They water. They twitch. With every ounce of willpower, I try to keep them open. Then they attack and roll back into my head, sometimes one in a different direction than the other, which is not only disorienting but it forces me to close my eyes. I rub them hard, pretending I have an eyelash, but secretly trying to disguise the fact that my eyes are committing mutiny.

 Next comes the inevitable head bob. Just when I think I've conquered my eyes, my neck decides to abandon its post. My whole head drops, and consequently I nearly fall out of my chair. I can't rest my head on my hands because then I fall forward. I can't sit up straight because I've even had my head drop back before. Inception had it right when it mentioned the kick. The physical feeling of falling is definitely enough to snap me out of my drowsy state--for a few seconds. Until the whole battle starts all over again. By the time church is over, I'm not sure how much of the gospel actually sunk into my head or how much of it was a sleep-deprived hallucination.

When I finally get the chance to collapse on my bed, I sigh happily and then I'm out like a light. Although I'm usually a light sleeper at night, during these blissful unconscious hours on Sunday I am dead to the world. Text messages, phone calls, or alarms fail to release me from Morpheus' grasp until I've slept for a minimum of two, possibly three, hours. After that, well, it simply feels good just to lie there and look at the ceiling.

Studies have shown that those who take regular naps actually live longer. Naps help relieve stress, boost productivity, improve memory, and are generally good all around. Even NASA did a study on naps and discovered that longer naps are better, though one should be careful of the groggy state called "sleep inertia" that comes when a nap backfires. There's even a National Sleep Foundation, so my 3-hour Sunday snoozes are at least partially justified.

And just for your entertainment, I decided to include the following tips on effective napping:
  • Make yourself comfortable. Comfy clothes, comfy pillow, comfy couch or bed or floor, etc. You're not going to sleep if you keep having to re-adjust your belt buckle.
  • If you wear glasses, take them off! Nothing bends or possibly breaks a nice pair of frames faster than sleeping on your face.
  • A little white noise, surprisingly, makes it easier to take a nap. Although at night I have to have it dead quiet, during the day, I find that the slow murmur of the television to be quite soothing. I do not suggest you play any movies, however, 
  • Close your eyes and think of something dreamy. Let your mind wander to that private beach or sunny lake. It's easier to fall asleep if you're not thinking "OK, I'm gonna sleep now. Why can't I sleep?!"
  • Make sure your nap takes place during the afternoon. If it's too close to your regular bedtime, you'll regret it later. Insomnia kind of defeats the purpose of napping.
  • Don't feel guilty. I officially give you permission to sleep.
And for further instruction, I give you this...



Sweet Dreams!

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What I'm Doing These Days

  • Designing another blog layout
  • Job Hunting
  • Listening to "The Weepies"
  • Reading "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Writings" by Washington Irving
  • Researching 3D rendering software
  • Working on my novel's first draft