I was a year old when I stopped napping. They say I wouldn't sleep because I didn't want to miss anything. Truth is I didn't trust the adults to handle things without me. My parents had just turned 22 -- can you blame me for being a little vigilant? My sister was born when I was 18 months old. I wore out my mother, father and extended family during the day. They tried bribing me and scaring me. Nothing worked and I lost the ability to nap.
I couldn't sleep on an airplane or in a car, unless I was sick or coming home from competing in a horse show and this pattern only hardened into an anti-napping stance as I grew up. I went through a period of chronic fatigue in my 30s so severe I was only able to work two to three hours a day. I couldn't read, I couldn't even indulge in my biggest guilty pleasure -- the television. I was too tired to do anything but stare at the ceiling. I turned everywhere for help, western medicine, energy healing, Chinese medicine -- anything to get some zing back into my life because my biggest problem was that I couldn't think straight, being that tired. And of course, I turned to my best source of wisdom, Tibetan Lama, Gelek Rimpoche.
"What do I do? What meditation practices? What retreats? Where do I go? I'll do any practice, just tell me."
"Every day, three times a day, lie down, close your eyes and for 10 minutes do nothing."
"Nothing? Can I listen to teachings?"
"Can I write down ideas?"
"No. Nothing. Just lie there and do nothing. Set an alarm if you have to."
It took a minute for the penny to drop that Rimpoche was simply telling me to take naps.
After 30 years of being an active non-napper I had no idea how to begin, but Rimpoche had a method --and even this stubborn old dog could learn a new trick. A little research showed me I had to learn to nap if I wanted to run with all pistons firing. Lack of sleep is a serious IQ buster and research through Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital also proved we all have two distinct sleep periods -- one long one, and one short one that comes 12 hours after the mid-point of the long one. For example, if you sleep from midnight to 8:00 am, then 4:00 pm is your nap time. And if you get less than six hours of sleep, a nap is essential.
The Nap Transmission
It took a solid year of practice, but now I can nap at will -- almost anywhere -- and even time myself without setting an alarm. Here's how to do it:
Try it. You won't believe how much better you feel at the end of every day.
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