verb: sleep lightly or briefly, especially during the day. she took to napping on the beach in the afternoons.

noun; a short sleep, especially during the day: excuse me, I'll just take a little nap.

PHRASES: catch someone napping Brit. informal find someone off guard and unprepared to respond: the goalkeeper was caught napping by a shot from Carpenter.

ORIGIN Old English hnappian, probably of Germanic origin.

Nap is a lovely word with a delicious connotation.   It used to be associated with children and the elderly, but I read in the NYT (which never lies) that there is a growing trend in business to encourage and allow for napping among employees, maybe even especially males.  In my arrogant youth I used to scorn naps.  I felt that I was honouring the dignity and reputation of   Canadian housewives by eschewing an afternoon nap. 

I changed my mind and my habit after I had 5/8 of my stomach removed (bleeding ulcer before it was determined that a pill was better than a knife) and decided that I was going to be healthier and stronger for a daily nap. 

Daily! Hah! Yes, of course daily, but more than one now.  A nap bestows more than physical restoration. It also reinforces what one has learned during the day - so far. In my book about writing (The Write Track, Dundurn, 2003) I describe the practical use of a nap. In my freelance journaling days I might have finished my research and preparation for an article long before bedtime.  I found that if I took the time to consolidate what I had learned, I could write the piece that day.  So I would lie down on the floor (I was younger then) cross my hands over my breast like the “Lily Maid of Astolat”(I remember writing) and meditate or nap, not sure which.  Then I would rise and write again. 

As I hinted I take more than one nap a day now. I set the timer for 30 minutes and I sleep instantly, often with REM, and I usually wake a minute or so before the timer rings.  (I have an inner clock, but no map.)  Sometimes I lie there- always on a bed now- and have a little trouble finding the will to get up and carry on.  T.S.Eliot (1888-1965) helps me.  I looked up what I wanted and pinned a print-out on my bulletin board. I find that the penultimate stanza of his poem, The Hollow Men (1925), somehow gme the impetus:

Between the desire

And the spasm

Between the potency

And the existence

Between the essence

And the descent

Falls the Shadow


I guess it’s spasm that does it for me.  Not with a bang but a whimper.