This is a subject that has been on my back burner for a while, but it's moved forward to the front of my consciousness recently. I saw a piece on the Huffington Post entitled: "Why Companies Should Insist That Employees Take Naps," by Tony Scwartz, author of the book, The Way We're Working Isn't Working.
I started taking naps in the late 1980's, at the same time that I began meditating. More than twenty years later, both meditating and napping are still a regular part of my life, and very often, they overlap as the same event. Lasting anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour usually, prime nap time for me is roughly sometime between 2 and 4 PM.
Here's Tony Schwartz:
"The best time for a nap is between 1 and 3 p.m., when the body most craves a period of sleep. The ideal length for a workplace nap is 30 minutes or less, which assures that you won't fall into the deeper stages of sleep, and awake with that loopy feeling scientists call 'sleep inertia."
"A nap," argues Mathew Walker, a sleep researcher at Berkeley, "not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness, but at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap."
The notion of solving an intractable mental problem by "sleeping on it," which many have found effective, speaks to Walker's point.
Interesting, what Schwartz and Walker have to say, from a strictly physical/linear perspective, and I do agree with the conclusion, as do the Italians, Mexicans and many other cultures who consider the early-to-mid afternoon hours prime siesta time.
From a spiritual perspective, though, there is another way to understand the value of napping.
I knew back in the 80's that not only was my capacity to nap and my practicing meditation connected in terms of my growing ability to relax my mind and body, but that my relationship between physical and non-physical reality was somehow involved.
"Seth," the spiritual entity channeled over a course of 20 years or so by Jane Roberts, claimed that a 4 to 6-hour block of sleep during the night, "reinforced by whatever nap feels natural," would be the "ideal." "In such circumstances," Seth says, "there are not the great artificial divisions created between the two states of consciousness. The conscious mind is better able to remember and assimilate its dreaming experience, and in dreams the self can use its waking experience more efficiently."
Seth goes on to say that this kind of fluid sleeping situation comes into being naturally as human beings get older, but because of our beliefs, we consider ourselves to be suffering from insomnia, and cannot then utilize the experience properly. "Both the conscious and unconscious would operate far more effectively under an abbreviated sleeping program," according to Seth, "and for those involved in 'creative' endeavors, this kind of schedule would bring greater intuition and applied knowledge"
Indeed, I have found that the 3 AM wake-up, or the 3 PM nap break, when I give in to the process, has frequently led to inspirations in my work as a writer.
Bottom line, folks, taking naps can have great benefits for both your physical and mental health, spiritual awareness and creative expression. So, if you were counting on sleeping in this weekend, get up... and then take a nap later, while you're TiVo-ing the Yankee game.