“Mom, no, please don’t.” My daughter yelled, while staring straight ahead.
“I have to. I just can’t help it.”
“NOOOOO!” She screamed, practically in tears.
“It’s out of my control.”
“How can you fall asleep when it’s the first time I am driving on the highway.” Her knuckles white and face intent.
I looked up the clinical definition of narcolepsy and I really don’t think I have it. But there are times when I just have to nod off. My family knows that as soon as they start the engines on an airplane, I’m out. I am rarely awake for take-off. Even when the girls were young, and I mean babies, they would have to fend for themselves the first 10-15 minutes of a flight.
I have been a napper since I was a teenager. I don’t change my clothes or get under the covers. I usually just find a comfortable spot and close my eyes for a few minutes.
My napping can be the subject of amusement for others. Every Tuesday for a year, I would pull in front of the Hebrew tutors’ house to wait for my daughter and her friend. The 5:00 pm sun, sinking low in the sky, would warm the car, even in the dead of winter, and it was like a spell. The next thing I knew the girls were banging on the window, laughing at the site of me, head tilted back, mouth wide open. Just the other day, as I lay on a lounge chair between two friends, they had a whole conversation about Barbara over my sleeping body. I don’t know Barbara, but I think her husband just lost his job. That’s the thing – I am asleep but yet I can hear things.
Napping has always been my coping mechanism. When I am having a bad day, I sneak away to find 15 minutes for myself and close my eyes. When I am having a good day, I sneak away to find 15 minutes for myself and close my eyes. I am like a battery that needs to be re-charged and it doesn’t take long. And I am not the princess and the pea. I can nap anywhere, anytime. I can be sitting upright in a chair getting my nails done or squished in the back seat of a car. There can be music playing, lawn mowers roaring or babies crying.
While it sounds so indulgent – “isn’t she lucky to be able to nap everyday” – it feels more like a necessity to me. I am an extrovert, an “outgoing, overtly expressive person.” I spend a lot of the day talking and listening. But I need the 15-30 minutes I take for myself every day. There is something so familiar and comforting in that feeling of drifting off. The sights and sounds lose their edges and start to blur. My focus becomes soft. I am floating somewhere between consciousness and deep sleep. Napping is restorative for me and increases my physical and mental well-being. Then bam, my eyes open, I look around, get my bearings and pick up where I left off.
“Wow, we are already at Exit 16?!? How long was I asleep?”
I am pretty sure I can hear her eyes roll.
Apparently, Napping is strategic according to the Army, so I feel even more justified. Read this….