A nap by any other name
“… Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap had just settled down for a long winter’s nap…” now there is a line of poetry that I understand.
A nap of any duration is a wonderous thing.
It’s not a new thing. Napping for any and all reasons has been an important part of my life.
I have been a fervent napper since, well, as long as I can remember. It was not unusual for me to get up on Sunday mornings, go to church, come home, have breakfast and go back to bed…when I was 12.
At college you would find me snugged under the comforter every afternoon at 3ish, grabbing a few minutes…and sometimes more, of shut eye.
As a relatively young teacher, any get-up-an-go was spent by the end of the day. Nothing, nada, left. Drained.
A brass band could parade through my bedroom as I, collapsed into a post-teaching nap, was deeply sleep. Talk about unconscious. I never missed supper though.
Older and a working outside of the house wife and mother, naps were dreamed of fantasies.
Who had time to nap? Even beyond our children’s infancy, there was always something to do. If ever I was tempted to find a quiet corner, all I had to do was look in the closet where I stashed the un-ironed clothes or the stack of papers that needed marking or try to explain away the dust bunnies under the furniture and I would prop my eyes open and forge on, no naps for about 20 years. Twenty years of bags under my eyes and unfinished sentences!
Time passes and napping, delicious sleep in the middle of the day, came back into my life. Not the world class napping of earlier times, but strategic naps, “10 minuters” that gave me a few hours of energy and, wonder of wonders, after retirement, I found it to be a luxurious gift to sit back on the living room sofa and drift off for a half hour whenever I felt the need. Just glorious! And no guilt.
Heck, I’ve been known to hap while showering. And, watching TV? How many programs have I completely missed? Of course the latter was an unplanned siesta, but still relevant.
At some point, sleep, illusive rest became a challenge. But, sleep was not always problematic.
I could nap and put in as many hours at night as I wanted or needed.
I don’t recall having much trouble sleeping as a child or a teen. I can clearly remember being able to put my head down on one of the big reading tables in the Carnegie Library at SU and going to sleep under the 40 watt bulbs that illuminated those tables. At a time in the ‘90s, for some foolish reason, I was smugly satisfied that I stayed up to watch the monologue on the Tonight Show and then arose at 5:30 a.m. to read the morning paper, when there was one. Living on less than five hours of sleep was considered normal among those with whom I worked then.
Of course, several of my colleagues suffered from rather interesting maladies, which, come to think of it are now thought to be related to sleep deprivation. It was an odd subcultural situation.
Now, I have trouble sleeping at night. Some of it is because of the discomfort of aging related conditions.
A lot of it is the buildup of overthinking that creates a whole world of what if’s and must do’s that invade my mind just at the time when I climb into bed, which is getting to be more of a challenge…the climbing in part.
I do everything the professionals suggest. I take a long, warm…OK, hot…shower after having closed down any access to digital information. I take my night time meds, none of which are supposed to interfere with sleep. My bedroom is dark. I ask Alexa to play “distant thunderstorms,” which does seem to mitigate the degree of my in- bed insomnia. I have the right weight of coverings.
How often do I pad downstairs to make some chamomile tea and watch something on the kitchen TV at 2 a.m.? Too often.
And then there is the need for, as Winnie the Pooh would say, “a little something.”
Staying awake all day doesn’t seem to fix the falling asleep thing either.
I just yawn a lot more while trying to fall asleep, incredulous that I gave up a nap and still can’t fall asleep.
So…what is, is. This is my Marcellus version of Eastern philosophy.
Fortunately, naps remain, sweet moments of oblivion that, recognized in song, story and poetry, allow that I am not too weird.
Add them all up and I’m getting closer to the requisite 7-8 hours that I need. Zzzz.