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The Triumph of nap man, Part 2: Siesta

The Triumph of nap man, Part 2: Siesta

by Wolf Pascoe on December 31, 2012

It’s been several weeks since Part 1 of Napman, but events intervened. Happy new year, I say. Let this post be a rock against all new year’s resolutions.

There is more refreshment and stimulation in a nap, even of the briefest, than in all the alcohol ever distilled. — Ovid

exhausted1It was in medical school that I started worrying about my sleep in earnest. I’d gotten so behind I thought I’d never catch up. I was actually counting hours, and I was a thousand or so down.

“I think I’m digging myself into a hole here,” I said to one of my professors, yawning.

I explained my arithmetic to him.

“Actually,” he said, “After a certain point, the lost hours aren’t strictly additive.”

“They’re not?”

He shook his head.

“So I’m not actually down by a thousand?”

“Maybe fifty,” he said. “You’ll get it back.”

A new lease on life it was. A mere two days behind? I could make it up by napping.




Perhaps you’re thinking I overstated the case to my son. Napping is not a superpower. A superhero Napman is not.

Think again.


Behold the poster to the left, for the 2010 National Siesta Championship in Madrid.


Contestants were given points for each minute of sleep. They were further judged on rapidity of sleep onset, snore quality, most original sleep position, and, my favorite, elegance.

Nobody’s perfect and the Spanish got a few things wrong—Franco, the Armada, the Inquisition—no matter. They got the siesta right.




What is it about naps? What do babies know that we don’t?

I thought it was just me who craves an afternoon nap. I can count down to my 2 o’clock “shut down” which lasts until about 3.30pm. I struggle to keep my eyes open and I too find myself trying to nap in the office toilets.
— comment, BBC News Magazine

I can relate.

The Harvard School of Public Health prospectively studied 24,000 men and women between ages 20 and 86. The researchers found the frequent nappers reduced their risk of dying from heart disease by 34%.

There is, apparently, a cost to ignoring the body’s sleep signals.

We’re designed to have two sleeps a day – a big one at night and a small one in the afternoon –Prof. James Horne, Director, Sleep Research Centre, Loughborough University.



The thing about sleep is, you have to make it a priority. When Nick was still napping, I’d lie down with him when I got the chance. When he got older, he told me naps were for babies. He’d wake me when I tried to nap after getting home from work. I took to stopping the car a block from the house and nodding off for 20 minutes.

These days, he lets me sleep.

“You should take a nap with me,” I tell him. “Remember when you were little?”


“You took naps with me.”


“Why not now?”

“You have time. I have no time.” he says.

“But you’re ten.”

“In my mind I’m eleven.”




A sudden exposition of sleep has come upon me.
— Bottom, A Midsummer Night’s Dream

BottomConfession: I am Bottom. I don’t have a choice about napping. A moment strikes when I can’t keep my eyes open. The only course is surrender.

It’s usually in the afternoon, and if it’s quiet and I happen to be home alone, it’s all the more irresistible. It’s like entering the wardrobe in Narnia. There are lovely houses and the English countryside and the clouds shape themselves into billowy animals. It could be any era, really. A time of soft peace.

Years ago, I had a vague memory of being set down in a sort of cradle, something that swayed in the afternoon breeze. I asked my mother about it.

“We had a little hammock on the patio. I used to put you there for naps.” she said. “Every afternoon when it was sunny.”

“How old was I?”

“It was your first six months,” she said.



This is the second part of a two part post. Part 1: Dawn

Last night I dreamt about Camilla Parker Bowles



The Siesta Championship

How to Nap 

Image credits: That exhausted kid at the top was snapped by Dalla;
“Sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arm” is by Arthur Rackham, taken from one of my favorite sites, Art Passions.




Oh, just say whatever comes into your head. Just Add Father is listening. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)


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sleep thou, and I will wind thee in my arms arthur rackham

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Steven Totland December 31, 2012 at 1:25 pm

Thanks Nap Man.
Have a fantastic New Year.


Wolf Pascoe December 31, 2012 at 9:43 pm

To you as well, Steven.

Nap Man


Barbara December 31, 2012 at 11:15 pm

In my mind I’m eleven. That cracks me up. My daughter is a champion sleeper and is seriously interested in the Madrid competition, but your link didn’t work! We feel this might be what she has been called to do all her life. 🙂


Wolf Pascoe January 1, 2013 at 1:10 am
Sirena January 1, 2013 at 8:59 am

I lived in Mexico where siesta is a way of life. You literally can not do anything from 2:00 – 5:00. It was wonderful. At work I keep asking them very seriously and with a totally straight face if they’ve ordered the cot for my office so I can take a nap after lunch. After 5 years of asking this question they now know I’m joking, although in my mind I dream of this. I only need 20 minutes in the afternoon – 10 minutes to fall asleep and another 10 to sleep and I’m good to go. Yes, napping is a beautiful thing and the world would be a better place if we all had siesta every day. You go, Napman.


Wolf Pascoe January 1, 2013 at 1:43 pm

It’s your office. I say fill it with what you need. And what you need is a Zero Gravity Recliner


pamela January 1, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Awesome. I’m 39 but in my mind I’m 26.


Wolf Pascoe January 1, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Me too! I’m 26!


Jim Parkevich January 2, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Hi Nap Man…..
I too, have issues of “nap time” with my own son. (just turned 39 and is still driving his old man crazy) He is a type A+++++…forcing himself to get at best 4/5 hours of sleep every couple of days !!!! Is it any wonder? ..as parents, we just can’t seem to let go under any circumstance. We spend a lot of time on the road together, I’ve started the trick of falling asleep in his truck..He gets so tired, he will pull over for a nap of 30/45 minutes…full out blessed sleep..I so miss those days when he was just a little tyke, asleep on daddy’s shoulder.


Wolf Pascoe January 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm

I look forward to a lifetime of worrying about my son’s sleep.


BigLittleWolf January 2, 2013 at 5:10 pm

This is lovely, and I very much envy you your ability to nap. I simply cannot do it. (Have tried, tried, tried – and no go.)

I cannot imagine how different the world would seem were I able to recharge when needed. But it’s a tantalizing thought.


Wolf Pascoe January 2, 2013 at 10:55 pm

“I simply cannot do it. (Have tried, tried, tried – and no go.)”
I am the same, in the opposite way. Pushing on through tiredness just gives me headaches.


The Exception January 4, 2013 at 6:12 pm

BLW is not alone – I can’t nap either outside the rare moment – and rare it is indeed. My daughter stopped napping very early on weekends as it was our time together. No matter how I tried, she wouldn’t nap if I was home – and she doesn’t nap either. There are days when I really would like to be a member of the napping club!


Wolf Pascoe January 6, 2013 at 12:00 am
Planner January 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm

I actually remember the first time during college when it dawned on me that I really wanted a nap. Until then I was like the energizer bunny. When I was 10 (or 11) you couldn’t pay me to take a nap. Too bad I’m no longer 11 in my mind.


Wolf Pascoe January 5, 2013 at 11:57 pm

Hi Planner! Speaking of bunnies, what do you get when you cross an anesthesiologist with the Easter Bunny? An ether bunny!


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