What happened to naps? One minute you’re snoozing at daycare, and the next they’re pumping you full of coffee in grade school. Or least that’s how things worked where I went, at Sacred Palpitating Heart Elementary.
Science has demonstrated that naps are good for you. And I believe science. Science has never steered me wrong. I’m a little nervous about how science is developing artificial intelligence, but until the computers rise up and vanquish mankind, science is A-OK with me.
Despite this seal of approval, naps remain unappreciated and frowned upon at department meetings. One of the reasons for the nap’s bad rap is because people don’t know how to properly have one. That’s why I’m here, your nap-master, to help you score some zee’s with ease. Oh, wait: I’m Canadian; some… zeds… in beds.
First, you need to fit the nap into your day, so instead of spending your work break or lunch hour looking for cat-themed tea cozies on Pinterest, take that time to recharge with a quick siesta. Either way, you’re avoiding contact with other human beings, and rightfully so.
But where to nap? Most workplaces don’t come equipped with beds. Except furniture stores. Unfortunately, we can’t all be lucky enough to work in furniture stores. That’s the dream but what can you do?
Instead, seek out a local park or somewhere in your workplace where no one ever wants to go, say Acounting. You might even consult management to ask whether there’s any wiggle-room in their No Blanket-Forts Policy. Hey, maybe they have an under-utilized Wiggle Room!
Once you’ve established your Dozing Zone, the key to the successful snooze is napping just the right amount of time, not too little, not too much. It’s like the line between not enough Sweet Chilli Heat Doritos and far too many Sweet Chilli Heat Doritos. By the way, do not eat Sweet Chilli Heat Doritos before you nap. The dreams you’ll have! Plus the crumbs are a nuisance.
A 10-to-20-minute nap is an ideal length. You’ll wake up feeling alert and refreshed. Unfortunately, you’ll also look unnervingly like Bob Newhart, but that’s a worthwhile trade-off.
But how are you supposed to know how long you’re sleeping? You’re asleep! You can set an alarm, but how do you know when to start the timer if it takes you a few minutes to fall asleep, and by then you can’t set off the timer because, again, you’re asleep! This is why it’s important to have a napping buddy, someone to watch you as your sleeping. It sounds weird but is perfectly natural, no matter what my old college roommate tells you.
Different lengths of naps have different results. A 30-minute nap will make you groggy and lethargic. A 60-minute nap will help improve memory. Alternatively, an 18-minute nap will help erase memories of being picked last for softball. A 22-minute nap will remind you to purge all those expired Kraft salad dressings from your fridge. A one-minute nap may be a sign of narcolepsy; you should probably see a doctor.
Ninety minutes is a full sleep cycle, including deep REM sleep where every dream is accompanied by the song “Losing My Religion” and filled with other fairly obvious jokes. You’ll wake up revitalized and alert, your cognitive powers will be restored, and you’re also probably fired. 90 minutes? Should have had a nap buddy…
A nap of 34.5 minutes will allow you to wake up deeply contented but speaking with an Australian accent. A 42-minute nap will result in more drooling than seems humanly possible. And a nap of 7 minutes and 21 seconds will trigger the revelation that the only regret worth having in life is that you should have moisturized more.
I hope that this little primer has helped you achieve a successful nap. In fact, you’ve probably already nodded off. Sweet chilli dreams!
A version of this piece originally aired on CBC Radio’s “Breakaway.”