It took years to find joy of nap

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 22, 2014

It took a long time, but I finally discovered how refreshing an afternoon nap is.

Back when my husband was a career soldier, he came home for lunch to our quarters on post almost every day. As soon as he finished eating, he stretched out on the couch or bed and said, “Wake me up in 10 (or 15, 20 or 30) minutes.” In seconds, he was asleep. Just like that. It amazed and amused me. In later years when he taught, he came home from school in the afternoon, turned on the television, stretched out in his recliner, dropped his shoes, and immediately fell asleep. ”Just like Dagwood,” I used to say.

I recall that while I waited in a military dental clinic in Germany, a young soldier came in and fell asleep as soon as he sat down. It occurred as quickly as my husband’s lunch break naps. In a few minutes, a name was called to which there was no response. Finally, one of the sleeping soldier’s superiors waked him up. Right in front of everyone, he reprimanded the young fellow for falling asleep. I felt bad for the way he was treated.

When my head hits the pillow at night, I need to read a while to unwind. These days, however, I sometimes find myself wilting around three in the afternoon. I take the book I put down the night before and slip into my recliner to read for a few minutes. Suddenly I awake with my head lolling to the side. I now realize that unintentional short snooze is just what I need. It is a pleasure I missed all these years.

I think about the only time I ever slipped into a daytime snooze was after our first child arrived. He operated in perpetual motion. It was hard to get him to take his afternoon nap, so I rocked him. The gentle motion of the rocker sometimes put me to sleep. As a busy mother, I was always tired. That quick lapse into sleep lasted only seconds for me, though. As soon as I relaxed, my little darling’s head popped up from my shoulder like a jumping jack. Then, just about the time he was ready to doze, neighboring children came home from school and made noise outside our window, distracting him.

During my working years, there was never enough time for naps. Actually, from my childhood on, I mostly felt naps were a waste of time. My head always whirled with thoughts of the things I had to do next. I never considered a daytime nap when I had time off. Sometimes, though, I did fall asleep in my recliner at night following a day’s work. It usually happened right in the middle of a favorite television show, leaving me wondering what the outcome was.

But now, as I said, things are different. Those naps such as my love (and old Dagwood) enjoyed so much eluded me far too long.