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The art of nap-taking

My family sometimes josh me because for the last four years or so I have grown into the habit of retiring to my bed after lunch for a post-prandial nap. The official line being broadcast to the world behind my back is that it signals another step upon my journey into old age.

From my perspective it is nothing of the kind, of course. All my life I have been an ‘early to rise, early to bed’ man simply because I have just two switches – ‘on’ and ‘off’. If I’m awake, I’m up. I have never understood other households, even within my own extended family, who operate differently.

There’s one that (by arrangement) I occasionally ‘touch base’ with at 8.00am in order to agree schedules in the following fashion. I open proceedings by announcing, or repeating, my plans for the day and then my brother outlines his team’s provisional – or hoped-for equivalent – before adding the inevitable caveat “Of course, I won’t be able to confirm anything until about 11.00am when everyone else is up …”.

I cannot relate at all to either of the propositions this implies, viz. that (1) anyone in this day and age, even troubled hormone-multiplying teenagers, can habitually lie in bed on any day of the week until 11.00am in any event; and (2) any family cannot finalise its plans for the following day beforehand, e.g. the previous evening, and/or – having done so – can then also simultaneously grant each of its constituent parts the latitude to drive a coach and horses through those plans, accidentally or deliberately, by staying in their pits until they feel like it before finally confirming whether or not they are going to act as agreed.

The more mundane reason for my afternoon napping, of course, is that I’m getting in touch with my natural body rhythms. If I’m awake, what possible bar can there be to me getting up in the middle of the night if I feel like it? It sure beats in lying in bed, fully alert, trying to get back to sleep – indeed I remember reading somewhere years ago that this is completely the wrong course of action. Someone awake but seeking to return to slumber is far better served by getting up and making a cup of tea, or reading, or doing something, until they feel their eyelids drooping and exhaustion overtaking them.

In short, my version of ‘listening to my body rhythms’ means that if I’m awake and feel like it I get up and spend two or three hours minimum on my computer. If I then feel weary after lunch, by which time I may have been awake and active for anything up to twelve hours, I take a nap. Furthermore, if later I feel weary and ready for bed at 8.30pm, I go to bed.

What’s wrong with that?

Separately, they say that Margaret Thatcher needed only four hours sleep per night and that Churchill – affected by his prodigious alcohol intake or not – was quite capable of refreshing himself for his long hours of intense labour with occasional 20-minute cat-naps.

My snoozes vary somewhat. I simply press the button on my clock/radio in order to tune into my favourite radio station of the moment and slip beneath my duvet, whereupon unconsciousness soon becomes my companion. Most often I’m asleep for between twenty and thirty minutes, but sometimes – without any cause for this difference that I can identify – I ‘come to’ anything up to an hour and a half later.

And then I get up and resume my scheduled activities, whatever they were, without ceremony or fuss.

Occasionally I awake from my naps slightly wrong-footed, e.g. convinced either that I’ve barely closed my eyes (only to discover that I’ve completely missed a scheduled appointment or intended opportunity to carry out a priority task), or alternatively, feeling as though I’ve overslept by a huge margin, being amazed to discover that in fact I’ve been asleep for only seven or eight minutes.

If my memory is served, over the course of time I have twice woken up and looked at my clock or watch to find myself then temporarily confused as to whether – say, for the sake of this example – it is now 4.45pm or 4.45am. For obvious reasons, both of these occasions took place in winter, when darkness arrives earlier and leaves later than at other times of the year.

I mention all this today because, upon rising a couple of hours ago and beginning my daily browse of the newspaper websites, I soon alighted upon a report in the Daily Mail which provided another perfectly-plausible reason for my post-lunch habit of taking a nap.

It seems that, as a product of my practice of retiring for my after-lunch dozes, being a man I produce copious amounts of both oestrogen and testosterone, a heady combination which naturally and inevitably means that I shall awake again as a throbbing rampant sex god whilst simultaneously being rendered ‘more emotional present’ should I then immediately be offered the opportunity to have sex with an attractive female of the opposite gender.

See here – DAILY MAIL

Thinking further about this article since reading it, the more I’ve begun convinced it’s on to something …

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About Gerald Ingolby

Formerly a consumer journalist on radio and television, in 2002 Gerald published a thriller novel featuring a campaigning editor who was wrongly accused and jailed for fraud. He now runs a website devoted to consumer news. More Posts