In praise of postprandial naps

There ain't nothing like a nap with two cats on your lap
At desk, floor, anywhere, even Python's "comfy chair"

I managed to survive for five decades before I discovered the post prandial nap. That's an "after-meal" nap, and for me, the best time is after lunch.

The Comfy Chair used by Monty Python.

Luckily I can sleep anywhere, and I mean anywhere. The floor will do in a pinch, and a comfy-chair (as Monty Python's Grand Inquisitors used to call it) is beyond compare.

For me the ideal length of nap is between eight and ten minutes, and I don't need an alarm because I always re-awake in that time frame.

Good enough for DaVinci

My sainted mother-in-law, Margaret Teresa Twite, nee Gerrity,  thought naps where the devil's handwork for damning miscreants like myself, but luckily around 1988 I read that Leonardo DaVinci always took a nap after lunch.

DaVinci (April 15, 1452 - May 2, 1519) didn't own a wristwatch (1920-present) because they weren't invented until Brazilian aviator Alberto Santos Dumont asked his friend Louis Cartier around 1906 to come up with an alternative that would allow him to keep both hands on the controls while timing his performances during flight.

DaVinci he used his drawing tool which held held in his hand as he napped at this chair. As his hand relaxed with sleep, the drawing instrument fell, and the sound of it rattling on the stone floor awoke the snoozing genius.

Eight minutes = eight hours

"I can resist anything except temptation." - Oscar Wilde

I do not exaggerate when I say that after an eight minute nap I feel as refreshed as I do after eight hours of sleep.

While it may be excessive to take a second nap, I must admit there have been rainy Saturdays when I succumb to the temptation and take a post-postprandial nap as well. As Wilde said, "I can resist anything except temptation."

And napping is a high art in some cultures where there is no shame attached to it. It's even good for your health, as a recent study from Greece indicates. Here's what a story in the New York Times said about napping:

You know the feeling - your screen starts to blur, your eyelids become heavy, your mouth feels cottony, and you would give back all the perks of adulthood to be able to curl up on the floor.

Now out of Greece, comes permission to do exactly that. A study of more than 23,000 adults shows that those who napped for about 30 minutes each week had a 37 percent lower risk of dying from a heart attack than those who did not.This is hardly the first study showing that sleep is more than simply time when we really should be at work. Other studies, though few as extensive as the Greek research, show that short periods of sleep during the day increase productivity and creativity while reducing stress. And even without surveys, we know this from experience.

Which is why so many of us have been sneaking naps at work for years. Mark Lipschutz, a computer specialist in Philadelphia, for one, acknowledges disappearing out to the company parking lot when the need hits. There he reclines the front seat of his car, sets the alarm on his mobile phone, puts on the eyeshade he carries for just this purpose and sacks out. Eight or 10 minutes are often enough. More than 20 and he wakes up groggy.

Some Doctors disagree

The medical profession has not always agreed with me. A Dr Andrew Boorde (on right in an old woodcut obviously about to take a nap), writing in his Dyetary of Helth in 1542, said "Whole men of what age or complexion soever they be of, should take their natural rest and sleep in the night, and to eschew all meridial sleep. But, an need shall compel man to sleep upon his meat, let him make a pause, and then let him stand, and lean and sleep against a cupboard."

In the other hand, John Ponet, bishop of Winchester relates as matter of common knowledge that in 1547 Doctor Boord was convicted in Winchester of keeping in his house three loose women. For this offence, apparently, he was imprisoned in the Fleet, where he made his will on 9 April 1549. It was proved on the 25th of the same month. Thomas Hearne (Benedictus Abbas, i. p. 52) says that he went round like a quack doctor to country fairs, and therefore rashly supposed him to have been the original merry-andrew.

I rest my case, and my head... it's nap time.

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