Many moons ago when I was moving into my very first college apartment, I spent what was at the time a small fortune on a black fake fur couch with padded arms and a low back. The aesthetics of black fake fur not withstanding, I selected the couch for one reason: When my boyfriend and I went out furniture shopping, I laid down to test it out and within minutes, passed out asleep. For real. My boyfriend, who had been wandering around looking at other couches, found me snoring.
I woke up and immediately announced we were buying this couch. I already mentioned it was black fake fur and way beyond our budget, right? I got it on the layaway plan and probably spent as many hours asleep on that couch as I have in my current bed. When said college boyfriend and I eventually parted ways, the two items in our custody battle were the couch and the dog. I got both; he got liberal visitation rights -- but that's another blog post.
That couch outlived the dog and moved with me from dumpy college apartments to multiple houses in multiple states as I crossed the country for my career. No matter what style the house, the decor was based on having a black fake fur couch in the living room. A decorator friend once suggested that I move it to the den -- actually I think he said garage -- and I promptly dumped the decorator friend.
After 25 years, I reluctantly parted with the black fake fur couch. I sold it to a friend who had fallen victim to its nap-inducing charms. She took it out of state and I've never seen it since, although my affection for it has never waned and I periodically want to call and ask how it's doing. I never felt that way about the college boyfriend.
The couch held the magical power of putting to sleep anyone who dared to recline on it. I slept through entire seasons of Sunday afternoon football games. When dinner guests wouldn't go home, I just passed out on the couch. Forget trying to watch a Friday night movie; I napped through hundreds of them.
Napping, my friends, simply cannot be over-rated. I like naps in the sun poolside and I like nasty-weather naps on the rug in front of the fireplace. I like beach naps, car naps, and especially naps after a good meal while someone else washes the dishes. I like naps probably more than I like sleeping at night, which may explain why I need so many naps. I love the fact that the Huffington Post's New York newsroom has two nap rooms -- Napquest 1 and Napquest 2. I unfortunately work in the Los Angeles office where naps are limited to my head hitting the desk with a thud some days; we Left Coasters have been promised equal nap-access.
While I love napping in all its forms, some sleep scientists, like the University of California, Riverside's Sara Mednick -- author of "Take a Nap! Change your Life" -- say that naps of different durations provide different benefits. She says that a fast nap -- say 10 to 20 minutes -- will provide a quick alertness boost without bringing on sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is when you wake up groggy. She draws her line in the couch just short of 30-minute naps; she says anything more than that will require a longer recovery time.
I was also not surprised that, when I recently learned Transcendental Meditation, the one difficulty I had was fighting off the early onset napdom it seems to bring on in me. I no sooner focus on my mantra then I start to drift off to sleep. I asked my TM teacher whether this was bad thing and was assured it was not.
But does napping have a future? According to sleep experts, power naps can boost our brains and enhance our creative problem solving, verbal memory, perceptual learning, object learning, and statistical learning. They help us to reason logically, react faster and improve our mood by eliminating our feelings of sleepiness and fatigue. Naps are also good for our hearts, reduce our blood pressure, and improve how we manage our stress. Why they get eliminated from life's curriculum after kindergarten, I'll never know. But in the meantime, I'm back in the market for a new black fake fur couch.