What two little words fill us with dread as a kid and delight as an adult? Nap time! If you agree, I’m right there with you. And we’re certainly not alone. A notable 34% of American adults take daily naps, as have some of the most magnificent minds in history.
Salvador Dali. Leonardo da Vinci. Albert Einstein. Just to name a few. Granted, Dali’s naps were as wonderfully weird as he was, but they counted as nap time nonetheless.
Dali would fall asleep in a chair, one hand dangling off the armrest and holding a heavy metal key. When he slipped into sleep, the key would fall, clang onto the plate placed directly beneath it, and wake him up.
The artist would jump to his feet, ready for action. His ideal nap lasted a single second. While I’m a big fan of the surrealist’s art, I’m definitely more aligned with the naps of Winston Churchill or JFK. Theirs lasted about two hours.
My own nap habit came about some 15 years ago, when I was a Tucson crime reporter covering the 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. shift. Since going to sleep earlier than midnight always made me feel like I was going to miss out on some secret thing that happened precisely at 11:57 p.m., you could say I ended the shift lacking sleep.
So I’d come home, stretch out with my dogs, and take a two-hour nap. I’d wake up revived, revitalized and ready for an evening dog walk through the cactus and brush. (You need to be alert when you’re tromping through cactus and brush.)
That said, naps aren’t for everyone. My mom says they make her groggier than she was before. Others have said napping ruins their good-night’s sleep, not to mention their hairdo.
But if you’re part of the lucky batch of people who enjoy a nap, you’re surely aware of their benefits. The advantages apply to all nappers across the board, but they seem especially well-suited for writers.
Naps help writers with many things. Like increasing alertness so we make far fewer typos, enhancing fine motor skills so we type 88 wpm, and boosting memory so a quick trip to the bathroom doesn’t make us forget what the heck we were writing about.
Napping is phenomenal for creativity. It can transform any writer from a cranky, agitated heap pounding away at the keyboard to a bright and buoyant wordsmith from which the prose flows like magic.
All this while making us look years younger – napping is amazing for your skin! – and helping us refrain from downing a whole box of white-chocolate granola bars. Ever notice when you’re tired but need to stay awake you automatically reach for some sugary snack in the hopes of getting an energy boost?
One more perk is the ability to double the number of days in your lifetime. When you cut the day in half with a nap, it’s like getting two separate days for the price of one. Each 24-hour period has a pre-nap day and a post-nap day, giving you 14 days in a week instead of seven.
This is not only perfect for switching gears between writing assignments, but it also lets you live to be something like 163.
Although my job, activities, dogs, and location have changed over the past 15 years, my daily nap habit hasn’t. At some point throughout the day, I’m best off with a two-hour stretch of sleep with my dogs.
They love it as much as I do. Some dogs come running when you say “Treat” or “Walk.” Mine make a beeline for the bedroom when they hear the two sweetest words of all – nap time!
This article originally appeared at WriterAccess.