The secret to a successful life is, apparently, choosing the right smartphone—which explains my 2015 profit and loss report. For years now, helpful busybodies such as my formerly beloved family and few remaining friends have urged me to use more than a miniscule percentage of the allegedly humongous computing power clipped to my belt. I’m pretty sure they weren’t referring to my slide rule. (Oh, for Pete’s sake, just Google it—it’s a real thing).
Anyway, upon any trivial misstep such as mislaying my car at the airport parking tundra or arriving too late for the church strategic-planning endurance contest, they would sadly listen to my latest excuse and halfheartedly point out, “Ya know, there’s an app for that.”
But since it would be a serious loss of efficiency to pronounce all four syllables of “app-li-ca-shun,” what
I have heard for several years was “There’s a nap for that”— which totally makes more sense.
When Shakespeare wrote about the “innocent sleep that knits up the raveled sleeve of care,” doubtless he was speaking from the point of view of a man who understood the true gift of slumber.
Naps are nature’s way of saying “Sorry about last night.” While much derided as simply another way to get your picture posted on Facebook with drool coming out of the corner of your mouth, older and barer heads have learned they are much more.
For example, a quick nap after breakfast can help you bounce back from the exertions of dressing and eating breakfast, and the horror of checking the markets. Those 90 minutes of slumber in your ergonomically designed desk recliner can apply the Duct Tape of Distraction to your Sleeveful of Burdens. After all, when you are snoozing blissfully at your desk, at least you’re not making dubious marketing decisions or pricing combines. At least, not if you pushed your keyboard out of reach and closed your online grain selling webpage. (This happened to somebody else.)
More importantly, Shakespeare is clearly writing as a man of a certain age who has discovered one of time’s precious gifts: the ability to sleep faster. Hard as it is to believe, what used to take eight hours to accomplish requires as few as four or five hours in middle age. We veterans can be completely finished by 3 a.m.
High-speed slumber frees up your time to ponder all the things you think are going wrong in your body; to suddenly remember switches you forgot to turn off—or maybe did; and to contemplate how everything is terrible and getting worse and we’re all pretty much doomed.
So when I speak of a nap after breakfast, it’s less a joke than a necessity. Mature adults already have a half-day of fretting done by then. Siestas after lunch and recliner-in-front-of-the-TV catnaps are standing appointments in a proper daily regimen of recharging.
Hard as it is to believe, there seems to be a strange linkage between total daily nap time and nightly slumber. Research suggests more of the former can lead to less of the latter, but that is probably from the same eggheads who tried to convince us seat belts were a good idea.
But like these new-fangled “app” thingys, choosing and using the correct nap is crucial. First, do not squander valuable nap time. Throwing away 30 minutes of unconsciousness on a broken couch in your machine shop trivializes the art. Zonking out in the middle seat for the duration of a four-hour flight will amaze seatmates, especially if you’re a “nodder.”
Always consider your environment. Are the tractor and grain cart in which you are snoozing blocking the field entrance such that you will wake to an air horn? Will your currently shady lawn chair become a full-sun toaster during the final 90 minutes of your shut-eye?
No matter the situation, there’s a nap for that. Choosing the right time and place, however, is the mark of a person with well-knit sleeves.