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One Small Change

Why It's So Hard to Nap


I should first confess that I work from home, thus it’s much easier for me to sack out during the day than most people. Still, I’m a workaholic who doesn’t like to waste time, and I certainly don’t want my wife coming home from her job early and catching me asleep on the couch. (But honey, I swear it’s an assignment!) So this experiment won’t be as easy as it appears.

When you reach a certain age (mine shall remain undisclosed), I suppose you come to approach napping like you used to approach sex. I lock the door. I pull the shades. I put the phone on Do Not Disturb. I plump the pillows. I slip into something more comfortable. I have a Scotch. Whoa, wait a minute, I can’t do that; it’s mid-afternoon.

Although it’s more restful to lie down, Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical pyschologist and diplomat of the American Board of Sleep Medicine, told me to avoid getting into bed because it might prompt longer naps and lead me to associate the bedroom with napping more than sleeping, which could cause problems later. So I’m on the living-room couch, which creates its own set of challenges because my two Jack Russells aren’t used to seeing me like this. After a sustained bout of sniffing to apparently convince themselves I am still alive, they run to get their toys and begin bounding on me. I consider it a bit unfair that they nap all day, but when I try to squeeze in even a short respite they become uncooperative. I lock the ungrateful bitches in their cages.

Dr. Breus also told me to set an alarm clock for 30 minutes. That way, I’d be sure not to wake up six hours later, groggy, confused, and reaching out for a long-lost girlfriend named Mona.

Oh, and there was one other important bit of advice. Dr. Breus encouraged me to look for my “natural napping time.” This is the point in every day (between 1 and 3 p.m. for most people) when core body temperature rises just like it does at night. You’ll know this is happening because you’ll begin to feel drowsy. A subsequent fall in core body temperature then triggers the release of melatonin, our natural sleep hormone. If I can find and ride this natural sleep cycle, I’ll be guaranteed success, Dr. Breus says. Because I normally feel sleepy after lunch, he suspects I might even have some Latin blood because that’s siesta time.

Let me repeat that in case any ladies in the audience are speed-reading. He says I may have some Latin blood. Carumba!

With that pleasant thought, I set my alarm for 1 p.m., snug down my cap, and close my eyes. This feels nice—almost like I’m cheating on the rest of the world.

But suddenly the dogs explode. The UPS truck just pulled up, and they hate the UPS man only slightly less than they loathe the FedEx guy. Then he’s ringing the doorbell. Then someone is beeping a horn because the UPS truck is parked in the middle of the road. Meanwhile, all these machine-gun thoughts are rat-tat-tatting through my head: it’s garbage day, I’m almost out of beer, I hope my daughter’s okay at college, I should get that mole checked, Penelope Cruz sure is hot, I need to get to Target and buy some new socks….

How am I ever going to sleep in the middle of the day?

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About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

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Tags: Rest, Sleep, Relaxation