In Praise of Naps

I just took a nap. I never take naps. I feel too guilty. I should be working or at least look like I’m working. But today I sat, staring at my page and not coming up with anything to write, my eyes sinking further into my sockets until they had to grow hands to cling to the edges to avoid disappearing completely.

The problem with writing is that it is so close to sleeping. You have to relax, sit still, wind down and try to merge with your subconscious in a dream like state.


It is one of the reasons I try to wake early in the morning to write. My mind is rested and not yet overwhelmed with the chaos of a regular day.

But sometimes life gets in the way. Late nights, early school runs, chores, errands, emails, phone calls, this and that until I settle in my chair to write. And my brain slides into a free fall.

I try propping it up with coffee, each cup blacker and thicker than the next. But today it didn’t do the trick. I just sat there my eyes dripping with the need for sleep.

And so, feeling as guilty as if I was slipping into a lover’s tryst, I tiptoed up to my bedroom, pulled back the cover of the bed I had just made this morning, and lay down my head. It felt as heavy as a bowling ball. It protested—too much to do—but I put a finger to its lips and the next thing I knew I woke up 30 minutes later, the weight lifted, the weepiness gone.

And no I’m not exactly doing the conga right now but I am back at my desk and I just might make my word count…

photo by (flickr)


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10 responses to “In Praise of Naps

  1. David

    If you can stay awake long enough to do it, stop flagellating yourself. 4 out of 5 doctors who recommend Trident for their patients who chew gum also recommend naps — and probably made that recommendation during a nap. I would also recommend certain antidepressants that induce wild nightly dreaming and cause you to wake up surfing in a sea of consciousness. After you choose to wipe out, simply write it up after your first cuppa Joe and voila! — instant mess-terpiece.

  2. Churchill and Einstein swore by the power nap during the day – you shouldn’t feel guilty – I think it’s a sign of great things to come – your next novel clearly will be fantastic 🙂 mx

  3. ninakillham

    Thanks, David and Meike, I will power on power napping! xx

  4. You had me drifting off into my own little dream-like state with your enchanting and descriptive metaphors!

  5. njaiswal

    For me, sleep is the perfect excuse. The moment I feel slightly drowsy when I sit down to write a post, I think “Wait, I can’t do this! I won’t be able to do justice to it. I think I should sleep on it.” And off I go, procrastinating.

    Kudos to you for having the will to fight it! You seem to deserve the nap much more than I ever can, what with nothing to do through the day (a college student on vacation)!

  6. My family gives me naps as gifts for Mother’s Day and my birthday!

    There’s nothing wrong with naps—if I try to write through the genuine sleepies, the quality isn’t very high. I usually only have to forget my MCs name twice to acknowledge the clue.

    Plus, speaking as someone who burns her candle at both ends, turning off my brain every once in a while is a good way to conserve wax. And improve my metaphors . . . yawn . . .

  7. ninakillham

    Naps as gifts. I think that is an excellent idea!

  8. I nap at work. It took 10 years of treating people really mean so that they learned to never come to my desk. The payoff is now I can sleep uninterrupted.

  9. Nina, I classify it as meditation. You go to your bedroom for brain-cleaning and whatever happens, happens. Sometimes it is sleep, sometimes it is just quiet. Mostly always refreshing. Think of it as an investment. :-0

  10. ninakillham

    HI, Juliet, I think that’s a very good way of putting it. It is meditation. I often find I find my answers by just laying my head on the pillow.

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