I did something the other day I’m not proud of. I’d just come home from taking the kids to school on one of the coldest mornings of the year. Raindrops from the night before had frozen in mid-drip off the patio table. The sun had called in sick, leaving behind a bleak, gray sky, and the piercing cold seeped directly into my bones. I couldn’t shake it.
I crossed my arms and hugged them to my chest to conserve body heat. The heater couldn’t work fast enough on the drafty house. With goosebumps all over, I shook off a shiver and trudged toward my desk to start the day’s work. Halfway there, I had an idea: “I could just get under the covers and put my feet on the heating pad until I warm up.” Yes, that could work.
So I scurried back to the bed I’d left an hour earlier. I turned the heating pad on high, burrowed under the covers and waited for warmth. For the first few minutes, I checked email on my phone. Then I read the news while the heating pad’s warmth started to thaw my frigid feet.
At some point, I must have blinked too slowly or closed my eyes and then – nothing. Blackness. Pure unconscious bliss.
I scrambled for the phone when it pinged again and looked at the time. An hour and a half had gone by in what felt like only 10 minutes. I checked the new text messages, one of which was from someone who wanted to know if I’d received her email.
There were a few possible answers to that question: 1) “The email is probably in my inbox but I wouldn’t know because apparently I’ve turned into a toddler who needs her warm blankie and a mid-morning nap. I’ll answer your email right after I have some Goldfish crackers and a juice box.” 2) “Sorry! Didn’t hear the phone ping!”
I decided to go with Option 2, which was technically true. It is, in fact, nearly impossible to hear your phone ping when it’s buried under blankets and you’re in a coma-like sleep.
I threw back the covers and went straight to my desk, feeling equal parts guilty and lazy about my secret slumber. We Americans are supposed to be busy making our super-productive dent in the universe and documenting it on Facebook, right? There’s no time for napping.
But the truth is… I liked that nap. Loved it. It felt amazing – like a little vacation from real life. No wonder people look forward to retirement. When you’re retired, you can take a nap without an ounce of judgement or self-recrimination.
Perhaps retirees know something we should all learn. I Googled the benefits of napping and found a WebMD article that says “Getting rapid eye movement or REM sleep, usually 60 to 90 minutes of napping, plays a key role in making new connections in the brain and solving creative problems.” And it’s true! After my nap, I connected my backside to my office chair and solved a “creative problem,” like coming up with my next column idea.
So no more feeling guilty for an occasional daytime snooze. If your brain needs a boost, perhaps you’ll find what you’re looking for on the backside of your eyelids. Maybe we should all dare to dream – literally. It worked for me. (This week’s column brought to you by “a long winter’s nap.”)
Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.