The Golden Age of Naps is behind us. The great nappers of the past are gone. There will never be another President who can nap like Calvin Coolidge (apologies to Ronald Reagan). There will never be another man so great he saved Western Civilization, yet managed to get his naps. I’m speaking here, of course, of Sir Winston Churchill.
Churchill was a practitioner of what I call the full immersion method. That is stripped down to the buff, back in bed under the covers, to sleep until when you wake up, it seems like a new fresh day. Nothing else is quite as refreshing. Naps in chairs just won’t do.
And there is the problem. The field is crowded with amateurs. Folks unwilling or incapable of a full commitment to the craft. Nodding off in front of the television, in a chair with a book for a few minutes, or at the beach while boiling in the sun is not real napping.
Of course, multi-tasking is to blame. People are in the habit having too much to do; they keep busy and feel they simply can’t afford the time to rest up and start again, clear-headed. You can’t nap while doing anything else effectively. This alone proves just how hard getting a good nap is. It requires singular commitment and concentration.
It was my daughter who introduced me to napping. As an infant, she regularly ran out of steam around 1pm and needed a nice lay-down for a couple of hours. At first, I tried to use this break to do housework, but that invariably woke her up early with disruptive consequences for the remainder of the day. So, I succumbed to her excellent example and went back to bed myself.
Now she is an adult, gone away and living a life of her own without time for naps. I continue to run out of steam at about the same hour, but because of work, it is only on weekends and holidays I get to really nap. The rest of the time, I slog through as best I can.
When I do get to nap, it is done in the classic style. Back to bed and off for a deep sleep. The dog has learned to recognize the signs and is usually up in her sleeping chair, ready to join me for our ritual. Usually an hour is enough and I awaken punctually, without an alarm clock. If I oversleep an extra half hour, the dog is sure to wake me and get me going again. She gets up, too, and goes back downstairs to sleep on the coach or in front of the fireplace.
Something should also be said here about hammocks. It is hard to argue against a few hours in a hammock whether for reading, birdwatching, or napping. It is equally restorative and has the added benefit of counting as an outdoor activity.
Aging in Place, it doesn’t happen by accident. Be sure to get your rest. Aging is a long journey.
Scott Funk is Vermont’s leading Aging in Place advocate, writing and speaking around the state on issues of concern to retirees and their families. He works as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage reverse mortgage and HECM for Purchase specialist. You can access previous Aging in Place columns and Scott’s blogs at scottfunk.org. His e-book is available on Amazon.