In Praise of Napping

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Photo via NYTimes
Photo via NYTimes

This column, That Nature Show, is about the nature right under your nose: in our backyards, playgrounds and parks! Stop and look around, you’ll be amazed at what surrounds you. 

There’s not enough napping. Our modern lifestyle of hectic constant busyness —  the never-ending errands of suburban motherhood, homework, sports practices (for instance, my son, 9, has taken up fencing, for which he needs, so help me gods, his first jock strap) business and holiday bazaar planning meetings, commuting, shopping for school uniform regulation white sneakers that gray with mud not 24 hours after purchase, email-answering, to-ing and fro-ing —  is contrary to our mammalian biology.

We are on overdrive; it’s making us bats. We’d rather give ourselves electric shocks than be alone with our own thoughts, a recent study found. We clearly need to nap more.

Biologically, we’re designed to nap. Research into the so-called Blue Zones, the places around the globe where people live longest, healthiest, and happiest proves it.  Or simply watch any other animal. A lizard in the sun. A cat.  My dog falls asleep on the floor. She is by far the most well-adjusted member of the family.

The siesta is a lost art.  My parents, who lived in France in the early ’70s, remember how every storefront there shuttered from noon to 2:00. Commerce halted. Businessmen came home for lunch and a lie-down. There was a lull. A beautiful, lavender- and beef bourguignon-scented lull. At first my parents were like, “What cultural artifact nonsense is this?” And then they were like, “This is the life…” (this is the soundtrack to that time in their lives.)

In Christopher Alexander’s seminal book on New Urbanism, he has a whole essay dedicated to Sleeping In Public, and he says that it is a sign of the success of a place.

It would be healthy for all of us crazed individuals texting madly with stressed-out  and tired-faced emojis to take a break. And not only healthy. “Research suggests that innovation and creativity peak whenever your alertness dips.” See? You’re more of an outside-the-box problem solver if you nap. You’re restored, and able to carry on, to continue in your arduous tasks of modern parenthood, for instance, the task of finding a jock strap for a nine-year-old.

Ladies and gentlemen, to bed. To the divan. To the lounge chair, put your feet up, or simply put your head down on your desk and doze.



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