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Yesterday, I took a nap.
It seemed non-negotiable. After repeatedly running off to UPS, the thrift store, and friends’ apartments to send off, donate, and gift my possessions, I did a swipe of the miscellaneous belongings on my bed with one arm, fluffed up my pillow, and the last thing I remember was letting out a big sigh.
I dreamed. I dreamed of walking into the hallway of my building, and when I turned, there was a note on the door that read, “Apartment #12, empty.” But I was not out, and my apartment was not empty yet. I had three more weeks until the big exit. I pulled the note off the door.
“I’m not gone yet. I’m not gone yet!” I exclaimed into the hallway. I could see my neighbor’s feet moving under the door across the hall.
Could he hear me? Could anyone hear me?
When I woke up sometime later, it was 3:00 in the afternoon and the sun was pouring into my apartment. It looked ransacked, but this, in fact, was progress.
I couldn’t remember the last time I took a nap. I lay there thinking about it. I felt both relieved and annoyed. In between wrapping up a job and preparing to move out of the country, I had a lot of stuff to do. “I am concerned about my fatigue,” I texted my friend.
She responded immediately, “Could it just be that you are constantly doing something?”
She was right. If anyone else would have come to me about this, I would say, “You need a nap. How great that you took one!”
But still, I felt I needed permission to nap, a better reason to do it, or that something must have been wrong. So, I googled one of my favorite people to listen to—sleep expert, shut-eye extraordinaire, and neuroscience crush of mine, Matthew Walker, PhD
Surely, he would give the permission I sought. He wrote the book, Why We Sleep, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and his humble presence permeates airwaves, soothing them with calm and collected passion.
In this longer interview, he mentions how sleep is “stigmatized with this label of laziness. If you are getting sufficient sleep, you are slothful.” That is the belief in our Type A society, isn’t it? How unfortunate. I felt guilt and annoyance when I napped, but in the end, I reaped the “immense cascade of health benefits,” as he so keenly describes them.
He also mentioned why he’s “enamored” with the dream state. Me too. And my naptime dream was an interesting reflection of how much the move was emotionally hitting me. “I’m not gone yet!” as if to say, “Have you already forgotten me?”
In this less-than-two-minute quickie specific to my nap conundrum, Walker mentions that napping can be as beneficial to our memory and learning as a whole night of sleep. We are constantly integrating new information, whether it’s a skill or managing big life changes. There’s nothing slothful about positioning to become better versions of ourselves. Why don’t we embrace this natural gift more? There’s nothing I wanted more than to feel ready to tackle the rest of my move and to continue sending my things to thoughtful new homes.
Through all of this, I’ve yet to come across anything in which he states that napping requires permission.
So, until my apartment is actually empty, I will snooze between the piles as needed and recommend his sleep prowess to anyone who is curious about how much happens when we sleep, whether it’s throughout the night or in afternoon spurts with the sun on our faces, dreaming worries of being forgotten.
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