In Praise of Cat Naps

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It is reported that cats can sleep 16-20 hours a day, more than any other animal. They are not very picky about where they take their nap either. It might be in a tree, on top of a car, a roof, their favorite chair or just about anywhere they can curl up for 40 winks or more.

So I look at my wife yesterday and she asks how I enjoyed my nap. I reply that I did although I don’t remember sleeping at all. She then asks me the first nap or the second one. I answered they both were good. Apparently I had woken up mid nap, talked with her a while and went back to sleep. I don’t remember that either.

I’ll admit it, I like to take naps. As a napper I join the likes of Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon and George W. Bush who are known to appreciate an afternoon nap. Winston Churchill’s afternoon catnap was an inflexible part of his laidback attitude to his regular routine. Thomas Edison was something of a self-hating napper. He liked to brag about how intensely he worked, how he snoozed only three or four hours a night, and how he would, every now and then work, for 72 hours in a row. But truthfully the secret to his spectacular productivity was something he hated to mention and hid from other people, he napped daily.

Being sent to bed used to be considered a punishment when I was a child but now that I am retired, I think of it as a privilege, a pleasure not afforded to everyone.

Habitual napping is when a person takes a nap at the same time each day. Young children might fall asleep at about the same time each afternoon or an adult might take a short nap each day. We watch a young girl and after lunch each day she gets a pad to sleep on and a blanket without being told. I think that those cultures that take a siesta after lunch have the right idea.

The national sleep foundation says a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance. I take two naps a day. The one I take after lunch I call my “nooner”.  I have been taking a nooner for several decades.

My napping started when I was in the Navy. We worked four hours on and eight hours off. Unfortunately, if you ended your four hour watch at eight o’clock in the morning, you were expected to work for eight hours that day. Then you had to stand watch for another four hours. That left eight hours a day for everything else. I used to catch a short nooner during our lunch time. You were expected to be at your watch station on time so I would set my internal alarm to allow myself time to get dressed and where I should be. After about three days of this you would be bushed and due to sleep deprivation, you might be operating at less than your best.

When I worked a second shift in Buffalo. I didn’t have to leave for work until around 2:00 P. M. After lunch my wife would like to watch her “Soaps”. This was an activity that didn’t interest me at all. She would sit on my lap in my recliner and I would say “See you in a half an hour.” I would put my head back and would be snoring within 30 seconds. Then exactly a half an hour later my eyes would open and I would say “I’m back.” This would drive my wife crazy. I tried to explain to her that I knew I only had 30 minutes to sleep so I would set my internal alarm clock.

When I finally got a day shift job this napping ability would prove very useful. I would eat my lunch real fast and then “set my clock” to coincide with the end of my lunchtime. I don’t think I ever overslept.

When I got cancer, I would go into work late but the chemo and radiation treatment took a lot out of me. I had mentioned this to the owner of the company and he said if I was feeling exhausted, I could always go into my training room, lock the door and take a nap. I only availed myself of this privilege maybe a handful of times. Again I would set my internal alarm for 20 or 30 minutes and wake up automatically. To this day, I can still set my clock to wake up when I want.

I also take a nap after dinner. My grandson calls it my nappetizer, the sleep I take before I go to sleep, the French Onion Soup of sleeping. Lest you think I don’t get enough sleep at night, I usually get at least 8 hours of sleep a night so my napping has nothing to do with not getting enough sleep.

I do my best writing before I snooz
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