Take a nap

Dear Artist, I’ve always been keen on “don’t rest — run.” Often a quick jog after lunch seemed to perk me up and send me back to the studio with a new sense of adventure. Now I’m not so sure. Strictly between you and me, I’m now taking naps.

Sara C. Mednick Ph.D

This follows recent research into the value of sleep, especially short sleep. Sara C. Mednick is a sleep researcher at the University of California, Riverside. Her studies look at the relationship between napping and performance. Mednick thinks humans have a biological need for an afternoon nap. She’s the author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life. It’s not just the need, it’s the benefits. In sleep our minds become highly active. In sleep we apparently improve our creative ability by uncovering novel connections among seemingly unrelated ideas. Sleep also enhances performance, learning and memory. According to Mednick, after sleep, people are 33 percent more likely to be creative. Google, Cisco Systems and Proctor & Gamble have now installed Arshad Chowdhury’s “EnergyPods.” These are smart looking recliners with egglike hoods that block noise and light, allowing employees to take naps at work. These companies find that a little sleep helps “reset” the brain to look at things from a different perspective. According to Mednick, the best time to nap is after lunch. This is the time when most humans and animals experience what is called “the post-prandial dip.” It’s a low-ebb for cogno-processing and physiological responses — when a lot of us actually do feel sleepy. Naps, Mednick found, improve cognitive performance better than caffeine. I’d be interested if any of our readers have had experience with this. In my case Dorothy the Airedale and I go into the house and nap in a spare room. I read a bit first, preferably something unrelated to art, then I just turn over and snooze. Dorothy doesn’t need to read first. Actual nap time is from 20 minutes to an hour. If the house phone rings, the spell is broken for both of us. Returning to the studio, I quite often see right away what’s wrong with what I’m doing. Other times I’m driven to start something new. As an early morning riser I’m often petered out after lunch, but I can report that an afternoon nap gives Dorothy and me two days for the price of one. Best regards, Robert PS: “There are biological dips in our rhythm and in our alertness that seem to go along with the natural state from way back when.” (Sara C. Mednick) Esoterica: At least two methods awaken the potential of a nap. One is to pose a problem before you drift off. Notes unanswered on a pad of paper do the trick. Fresh in the top of the mind, the underground mind works on the notes as you snooze. The second is to go to sleep with nothing much on your mind at all (the purpose of neutral reading beforehand) and let the old subconscious mix and match where it will. “‘Scuse me, I gotta’ go.”   Profound sense of well being by Randy Davis, Killingworth, CT, USA  

original painting
by Randy Davis

I have taken naps ever since I was a teen (I now just got my Medicare Card!) and still do. Twenty to 25 minutes reset me for the rest of the afternoon, especially about 4:30 pm. A second wind naturally takes over and I can go till a good 8pm! I sort of follow the Italians in this ebb and flow. Take the afternoon hours off that are energy dips, relax and reboot! I also usually feel a very profound sense of well being at this time also, without the aid of coffee or my favorite beer! Happy Napping!     Unique position required by Karen Duplisea, Toronto, ON, Canada  

“Ryerson Dances”
produced by Karen Duplisea
photograph by Joseph Hammond

I am a big advocate of the nap in the afternoon! When I used to perform as a professional dancer, the whole company used to lie down for 10 minutes after a light dinner and before the application of stage make-up. It’s all in the approach to napping that makes the difference. If you lie down, and put your feet up so that your legs are on a 90 degree angle (calves resting on the seat of a chair), all you need is 10 minutes or so. The benefits are a wonderful resurgence of blood down the legs (great, if you like to stand while painting) and a deep rest, the quality of which, I have never received from a longer nap in a horizontal position on a bed. It has gotten me through my dance career, difficult pregnancies, my present teaching career at a university, as well as my budding, and hopefully future career as a full time painter. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and not the least of which – more time for painting!!   Health benefits of napping by Dr. Hal Martin, San Antonio, TX, USA  

original painting
by Dr. Hal Martin

Relative to my specialty of cardiology, there have been several large studies which correlate napping with a significant (up to 35-40%) reduction in the likelihood of developing or dying from heart disease. Napping also helps to lower blood pressure. The best time to nap is after lunch or early afternoon; napping after 3-4pm can impair nighttime sleep. Most of the benefit of napping occurs in the first 20-40 minutes. Slow brain wave sleep usually develops at around 45 minutes and awakening anytime within the following hour may leave one feeling very groggy for prolonged periods and can even cause disorientation, so best to keep naps no longer than 30-40 minutes (unless you can afford to sleep longer than 90 minutes which usually avoids these effects). During my practicing years, if possible I took a 20 minute “power nap” before evening hospital rounds; nowadays, 30 to 40 minutes in the studio around 2pm. There are 2 comments for Health benefits of napping by Dr. Hal Martin
From: Carol Reynolds — Sep 27, 2013

Your painting is wonderful ! It shows extraordinary skills. Were you able to paint during your practicing years as a doctor? I appreciate your info above.

From: Hal Martin — Sep 27, 2013

Thanks for the compliment Carol. I was able to paint some and even took a few workshops during my last several years of practice but interventional cardiology doesn’t leave much time for anything else in life, one of the reasons that I retired.

  Regular routine by Sharon Wadsworth-Smith, Orangeville, ON, Canada  

acrylic painting, 36 x 36 inches
by Sharon Wadsworth-Smith

I wake up at 4am with my husband who has to get up early as he commutes to work in the city. That means my day starts before dawn and a lot of the high energy stuff and chores are done by 10.00 am. My studio hours are between 10-2 but often I start to burn out by about 1:30 so lunch and a nap with my cherished puppy dog, tends to get me energized for the rest of the day. Sometimes I just rest and read a book but it still seems like I have slept. The rest of the afternoon is spent with any marketing or research that goes with the business side of art. This schedule changes if I am painting on location but I still get burnt out at 2-2:30 every day and do not have to look at a clock to know that it is nap time. I unfortunately cannot get back to painting most afternoons but always hope that most of my wide awake time in the mornings is spent productively. We hit the hay every night at 8pm. If I have to stay up late for any reason, the whole schedule goes out the window! I also heard another good reason for an afternoon nap, and it really is supposed to help us burn calories! Yawn, I feel sleepy!   Naps are about dreaming by Peter Brown, Oakland, CA, USA  

oil on wood, 4 x 3 feet
by Peter Brown

This thing about naps is probably about dreaming. I wake up every morning at about 5:00 a.m. My upstairs neighbor gets up about that time. He leaves soon after that, and then I go back to sleep. Then the alarm rings at 6:30. Sweet Alice must wake up and start her day. Before Alice leaves for work, she brings my morning coffee. During these intervals I have the best dreams. I seldom require a nap later in the day. I thrive on these dreams. Light sleep. I visit with my mother, long deceased. I dream of paintings, not yet done. I dream of my son as a young lad, now forty years old, even as I have three grandchildren close at hand. I dream of paintings. I dream. Dreaming is what naps are about. There is 1 comment for Naps are about dreaming by Peter Brown
From: Darrell Baschak — Sep 27, 2013

Wonderful words and what a fabulous painting Peter.

  Naptime going to the dogs by Tinna Knight, Newport News, VA, USA  


I have always taken naps. I am a high energy person and I nap between 1:00pm and 3:00 pm every day. I too am an artist and a jogger. After a nap I have so much energy. I have a golden retriever and I baby sit Yorkies. They will come into my art studio and sit and stare at me reminding me it is nap time. We all go into the bedroom, jump into bed, cuddle up and take a nap together. The golden always jumps off and find a place on the floor. My husband has always scolded me for my napping. I just tell him it is what my mind and body needs. He is now taking naps. Napping is wonderful and comforting. Go napsters.


(RG note) Thanks, Tinna. And thanks to everyone who sent photos of themselves napping with their dogs and cats. Very comforting.       Two naps better than one by Mike Croman, Olympia, WA, USA  

“Sky Wheel 2”
oil painting, 20 x 16 inches
by Mike Croman

I wake early, usually between 5 and 6, have my coffee and very light breakfast and do my daily housework first. By ten, I go to my studio, set up a canvas on my easel, prepare my paints and turpentine, turn on my exhaust fan and radio and then lie down for around 30 minutes. I stare at the blank canvas, close my eyes and take a brief nap. When I awake, I go to the easel and begin my painting with a rough image in my mind of what I want to see by the end of the day. Around 3, I lie down again and nap for about 40-45 minutes, automatically awake, review my painting and proceed to bring it to the point where I can let it set up and expect to do little to it the next day to finish it. I don’t think my days would go well at all without the two naps.   Feeling terrific afterward by Mary Ellen Bratu, Naperville, IL, USA  


I am a practicing artist and a clinical psychologist. I agree wholeheartedly with the power of naps to tap creativity, problem-solving, and general health and well-being. When I’m away from work (which I am right now for the next couple weeks), my body automatically steps into a natural rhythm that includes daily naps, about an hour long. Has been that way since I was a baby, my mom says. I like letting my body do that and I feel terrific afterwards, much clearer and with awareness of greater possibilities. Hope you keep supporting your own body’s need for a mid-day nap. And for the love of God, turn off the ringer! (That act alone, at least for me, brings real delight.)   ‘Sleep on it’ by Luis Guillermo Leigh, Ottawa, ON, Canada  

Luis Gatineau Park
oil painting
by Luis Guillermo Leigh

I have always liked napping but only recently have taken up exercising — I now bike to my studio three times a week — it certainly helps concentration, and I feel better. I nap when my body starts to get tired — it rests my body and resets my brain. If I nap for more than an hour, I feel groggy afterwards. I understand that experiments carried out in a sleep lab left persons to do whatever they liked, whenever they liked, in a room without natural light. They found that people tended to sleep 7-8 hours with a short nap opposite to sleep time, on a 25 hour cycle (called circadian rhythm); they speculated whether the earth had had a slower rotation which humans adapted to in earlier millennia. Sleep is known to help problem solving and creativity. That is why we say, “Sleep on it.” In the end Robert it is not one or the other when it comes to exercise and napping: you can get the benefits of both running and napping.   From Silicon Valley to Sonoma County by Kent G. England, Geyserville, CA, USA  


Your ‘Take a nap’ story struck a nerve with me. I have been working since I was 9 years old. Naps were never on the schedule. I have pushed myself relentlessly for 40 years of my adult life chasing a fast paced career that finally slowed down in 2008 when the economy died in California. I made the smart move to relocate with my sweetheart to Sonoma County (lots of fresh air and superb wine) from Silicon Valley (lots of fake people and bull#@*$). Although I am still working too many hours, and have not made the ‘shift’ to the studio full time, we are living an incredibly more enjoyable life… and one of the steps has been this ‘afternoon nap thing.’ Although we don’t get one every day because of our schedule, when we do it makes a big difference for me… — I feel that I am in control of my life just a little bit more than usual. This decision is my decision, and gives me a sense that I am in control of my life… not the work. — The naps sets the tone for the rest of the day… yes, it is just as full, but it is more enjoyable because you are more relaxed. Here are your options: You can work ‘a long day’ and be stressed. You can work ‘a long day’ and enjoy it throughout its course. You get to decide. The afternoon nap helps with that! — Lunch is more enjoyable with Joanna because we are not rushing out the door in two seconds after eating. Sometimes we go out into the garden to get something to add to our plates… the fresh air and sunshine during the day even for a few minutes is wonderful when you have locked yourself in your office building all morning. — It lengthens my day… work or play (my choice)… because I have more energy and can push harder if I want to in the later hours of the day. I get up between 3 and 5am, so in the afternoon and evening I am not running at the speed that I was in the beginning part of the day. This nap really helps me to be more productive as we move into the evening. And now for the best part. Sometimes I nap hard… sometimes I drift in and out of sleep. But there is nothing nicer than peeking through one eye when I am lying on the sofa in the afternoon… and seeing Joanna and our two dogs Pearl and Nelly sleeping soundly within a few feet of me… I know that I’m in heaven.  

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Take a nap

From: Paula Green — Sep 24, 2013

I hate to break it to you but it’s because you’re getting old.

From: Robert Sesco — Sep 24, 2013

All post-prandial electromagnetic diurnal rhythmic causations aside, Dr. Barry Sears, biochemist and author of The Zone Diet, establishes the connection between the food your brain needs for optimum alertness and efficiency and the food one places in one’s mouth. Apparently, everything that goes down the gullet, which would include coffee, water, Altoids, Truffles, and Chocolate Mousse, triggers a specific hormonal response. Hormones control just about every function in your body, and in 1982 the Nobel Prize was given out to a couple of scientists who articulated the hierarchy of hormones, with two eicasinoids being crowned Kings of the Domain. One is a Good King, and the other is a Bad King, even though both are required to fog a mirror with your breath. In order to foster more of the Good King (leading to wonderful paintings), food must enter the mouth in a certain ratio (in grams) between protein, carbs, and fat. Otherwise the hormone that controls blood sugar levels, insulin, gets out of its comfortable ‘Zone’. Anytime we eat JUST carbs, our blood sugar levels spike (we feel grand) as we digest, and then it crashes (we need a nap) as the body finishes off the last of the sugars produced from the carbs. Again, there may be psychic, solar, lunar, and cosmic cycles that indicate for a nap, I don’t doubt this; however, I know for a fact that eating in the way Dr. Sears has outlined provides an even, optimum energy level throughout the day. I encourage everyone to investigate this man’s research and evaluate for yourself what happens at a cellular level whenever you eat or drink. Naps are nice, I’ll take one from time to time, but I’m not convinced they are necessary. Those who work desk jobs cannot always take a nap, but eating in a certain way eliminates the fatigue that occurs between lunch and quitting time. I’ve seen this in action, and I know it works.

From: DD Jackson — Sep 24, 2013

I have to agree with Paula Green, Robert. I never napped before this last year but now, at 65, I’m beginning to see the wisdom of it. Like yours, my dogs think it’s just grand and why didn’t I wise-up sooner.

Best Regards
From: Susan Avishai — Sep 24, 2013

Turn off the ringer on your house phone!! No one needs to be available 24/7.

From: Doug Mays — Sep 24, 2013

Thank you for this Robert, finally, documented proof that my post-lunch naps have been for a good cause.

From: Karen Rand Anderson — Sep 24, 2013

Ahh, naps in the studio. When I suddenly feel the urge to lie down after standing at the easel, looking too hard, questioning, hemming and hawing, reading, writing, sketching or doodling, I realize that giving myself permission to lie down on the futon and close my eyes is the best way to recharge my creative energy. When I arise, I’ll often see the work in progress in a whole new way. And Theo agrees; it’s his favorite thing besides chewing on his bone under the desk. woof.

From: Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki — Sep 24, 2013

In one episode of the Dragon’s Den, an entrepreneur was offering those napping pads for company employees. Dragons chased the guy away saying that they would sue him if he ever approached companies that they invested in. This sleep on someone’s pay did not go well with venture capitalists.

I didn’t read the Mednick studies, but on the first thought I hope that my tax dollars don’t get spent on things like that that.
From: Cathy Parlapiano — Sep 24, 2013

Interesting that I should read this email just as I am getting started again after putting myself back to bed this morning! I am unable to actually fall asleep during the day but I find that if I just turn out the bedroom lights; close my eyes and breathe deeply (as if I were asleep) I can recharge my batteries. Now I’m off to paint!!!

From: Robert Bissett — Sep 24, 2013

Never been a napper. Now after 68 winters I am visited by involuntary naps as I sit working. Some times several minutes; sometimes just quick nods, one after the other. Eventually the brain is renewed and I go on.

From: Leslee Carsewell — Sep 24, 2013
From: Joyce Cameron — Sep 24, 2013

Like you I am an early riser, usually around five when I usually feel ready to take on the world, I mostly paint but sometimes I work with clay or I cook. By10 a.m. I am ready for my first nap and often I awaken to my husband’s comment “you have only been gone fifteen minutes” but I feel refreshed and ready to go. Then after lunch off I go again, not so much because I am tired but because I need to calm my mind.

Another thing that used to really help with any painting problems was when I would take my 100 lb. lab cross retriever for our morning walk in the hills near my home, it was wonderful for problem solving as well character building as there was never a day when we did not go and brave the elements.
From: Denise Paquette — Sep 24, 2013

This letter on “Taking a nap” is special because I do take a nap almost every day after lunch. It’s a must for me since I get up early I need to take a nap after lunch. After I take a walk in the woods with Suki my little dog I’m ready to go back to painting or making sculptures….my energy is back. Since I’m 85 years old, yes I need a nap…. I’m glad to read this letter this morning Sept.24, I know that I’m doing right.

Thank you for all your letters…I will forward them to my artists friends.
From: Maureen Savage — Sep 24, 2013

Power naps and pods have been popular for a while. Research shows that what Mednick et al say is quite correct. Wouldn’t we all like to own one of those pods though?

Napping during the day can also be a sign that night time sleep is disturbed. If a person snores for instance (or their spouse) their dreaming patterns change and they wake up feeling that sleep was unrefreshing and creativity is a misery. If any readers are sleeping too much during the day they should have it checked out. It could be a simple matter of a night time appliance from the dentist or ENT department. I once recorded my spouse when he was in full snoring mode as though I was a TV reporter and still chuckle when I think about it. “Ladies and gentlemen I present to you live from (our address) the sleeping (profession). As I speak his wife and children are leaving the building, yes, here they are now! Mrs.S, what`s it like living with a snorer?” ” He`s in denial etc……” Believe it or not he still said it wasn`t him.
From: Cora Jane Glasser — Sep 24, 2013

I totally agree! Naps are the best. Sometimes I find myself thinking I am hungry – even after lunch I think I need to eat more – and then I realize I just need a nap. I have a small couch in my studio, facing the large windows with a view of the sky. Sometimes I read a bit, but more often I just gaze at the sky and allow myself to drift. All electronic devices are silenced. I usually fall deeply asleep quickly and wake up 20-30 minutes later ready to work. In the business world they call it a power nap. In Spain they call it a Siesta. For me it is a creative re-boot, and, simply, needed rest. Great post- and hey, where can we get one of those pods?

From: Joyce Cavanagh-Wood — Sep 24, 2013

I discovered the joy/need for napping while at university in the last century. After class ended at four o’clock, I dove under the covers in my dorm room and napped for 20 minutes. I awoke refreshed and ready to hit the books. Now, though, I find the post-prandial time-slot more appealing,as does Airedale Maggie.

From: Luc Poitras — Sep 24, 2013

I retired ten years ago and discovered the marvel of the afternoon nap. Bliss! The key is not to go beyond an hour and accept that when you’ll get up, you’ll be a little groggy. That will pass within ten minutes. Isolate yourself so you’re not disturbed, make sure you know what your next “work step” is going to be when you get up. Then, lights out! If you sleep longer than an hour, it’s because you’re really tired. You’ll have to review your sleeping habits. As to when to nap, that’s personal. Don’t fight the urge. Sometime late morning is good for me, but usually it’s mid-afternoon. I try to nap everyday. It brings back my energy. It makes easel-time less daunting.

From: Peter Senesac — Sep 24, 2013

Naps are king but 20 mins to an hour is a bit long. After an hour I just can’t wake up. 8 to 10 works for me. I use the timer on the phone and there is no laying down. Too hard to get back up. I have an “emergency napping chair” with a head rest. For an additional boost on wake up try some dark chocolate and/or caffeine just before shut eye.

From: Bill Hogue — Sep 24, 2013
From: Marge Stevens — Sep 24, 2013

I have been an inveterate napper most of my adult life and agree with the findings of the research. A nap is especially helpful when I have late afternoon or evening plans, as it does, as you noted, give me two days in one. Hooray for naps!

From: Nancy Codd — Sep 24, 2013

Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I know several people who take a 15 minute nap, & some an hour, and it does rejuvinates you. Unfortunately I cannot nap – I sleep, and deeply with two to three hours later and I do not enjoy the waking up process, which is slow and very sluggish.

Lucky nappers!
From: Susan Hirst — Sep 24, 2013

My son has narcolepsy, which he often has to explain to folks has nothing to do with an interest in cemeteries or dead bodies. He has to work where it’s not considered laziness to nap during the day. He’s smart, funny, wonderful, creative (classical piano), and works harder than the un-napped; but he’s underemployed because of his disorder and nap needs. Bravo for Google, Cisco and Procter and Gamble. Any employer who accepted this quirky, sometimes sleepy, dude would benefit greatly…are you listening Seattle?

From: Lynda C Haghan — Sep 24, 2013

I m also a napper and have been for years. I worked in an office environment for 30 years…an early riser, and after lunch could go into the “first aid” room and nap for 20 minutes. After I retired, still an early riser (4:00) I find myself needing a nap after lunch. My little Yorkie agrees. Wondering if it’s just us early risers…wondering about those that don’t get up early. I know it revives me…need to pay attention to my creativity level. Interesting.

From: Ed Hoiles — Sep 24, 2013
From: Ernie Reinhold — Sep 24, 2013

I’ve been napping right after lunch for about a year now. I leave the office, go home, grab a quick bite of lunch, then nap for 20 to 30 minutes. Since starting this routine, I have never suffered from the sleepiness in the afternoon hours.

From: Paul Hough — Sep 24, 2013

Every now and then you write something that I can really relate to. Today I will not feel guilty as I take those wonderful twenty winks.

From: Lee Fritch — Sep 24, 2013

As for naps…….I am a believer and always have been. I absolutely SINK after lunch and a nap is mandatory in this house. Nothing short of an hour is an official nap in this league. 90 minutes is considered a good POWER NAP. I am pushing 80 and not at all ashamed of being a napper. We get up at 6…..wife and I.

We live in a continuous care retirement community….it’s like a resort. There is a lot of awareness and talk about Alzheimer’s here. I have read where keeping one’s mind active helps to protect us from getting Alz. And that new thinking is better than just reading the same sort of stuff. What I would like to know is ….does doing art work especially well for this ? Have there been any studies comparing the efficacy of various “senior” activities vis a vis staving off Alz? Perhaps compare it to doing puzzles, reading , or playing a musical instrument. Wouldn’t it be great if they found that doing art really helps better than most other activities. If thinking helps and creative thinking helps a lot……art is our ticket ! We both know how much thinking and decision-making is required to pull off a “keeper” painting. Something to think about….eh ?
From: Diane Furlong — Sep 24, 2013

Naps are one of the best parts of the day. My inner clock is set for naptime every day at 1:30 p.m. I can feel myself shutting down and nothing will do but to go lie down and close my eyes. If I’m working on a painting it will appear on the inside of my eyelids and I will go over it in my mind, seeing the good and the bad of it. I then fall into a sort of drifting, dozing state for perhaps half an hour. The best naps are the ones when I waken with a vision of a brand new painting or composition in my head. I’m sure they come to me from somewhere in the Universe because my dreamlike state leaves my mind open.

From: Theresa Girard — Sep 24, 2013

I love to nap….I also feel energized when I meditate. But sometimes I fall asleep while doing that as well!

From: Kathy — Sep 24, 2013

I agree with the creative juices getting lit coming out of sleep. Mine is usually in the middle of the night because I rarely allow myself the downtime, having a big family.

From: John Smith — Sep 24, 2013

I have taken my daily nap for years, but I find if I sleep for longer than 30 minutes I feel awful and dull -so 15 to 30 minutes max for me.

From: John Wordsworth — Sep 24, 2013
From: Peggy Hall — Sep 24, 2013

I became a napper some time ago, following the lead of my neighbours who are 76 and 82. Right after lunch the cat and I go to bed for one half to an hour. She gets quite upset if we miss it! Meows and nags at me until we go and lay down.

I take the phone off the hook and hide it in the other room so I can’t hear it ring. That nap time is a time I honor for myself. I don’t know if it helps my painting but like meditation, it sure makes me a happier person.
From: Lois Isaacs — Sep 24, 2013

Ha that’s interesting! I have indulged in this pastime for years. Even when I was teaching full time I would have a lunch nap on days I was not required for other activities. I have to confess it helped keep me sane while raising a young family. Now I have advanced to painting full time I find it essential to my

well being and creativity. Enjoy the revelation!
From: Denise Bezanson — Sep 24, 2013

I can really relate to this. I’ve always found I’m a “morning person”, I can get up and go. My day starts around 5:30 am. I work very very hard all morning, very efficiently usually, but I find that after lunch, particularly around 2:30ish, I start to drop in energy (and want to sleep). I often meditate then. I find 20 minutes of TM refreshes the brain, and I’m energized for the rest of the afternoon and evening. If you aren’t a meditator, naps work too.

From: Ralph Roper — Sep 24, 2013

Yes, I do nap every day unless something gets in the way. Usually after lunch around 1:30 – 2:30 or even later before dinner at 6pm. I’ve been snoozing this way for about 40 years now. Sometimes when I awake, I don’t even know what day it is. The odd time I may use ear plugs for some outside noise. I do get up early in the morning around 5:15 am 3 days a week. I guess that is why I feel like a nap in the afternoon. The key here, is that I set an alarm timer for just 30 minutes . . . any longer and you have defeated the idea of a short nap and feeling like the start of a new day. Some friends tell me they feel groggy when they get up after a nap . . . that’s because they have slept too long . . . an hour usually. In 30 minutes I feel quite relaxed and ready for a few more hours of artistic creating, so to speak. Of course we are not all the same in this regard.

From: Adriana Guidi — Sep 24, 2013

Loved the article on naps! Years ago when I was working at a local gift store doing personalizing, after lunch I just couldn’t stay awake..that would have been a perfect time for naps. It would have re energized all of us.

From: Ruth Woll — Sep 24, 2013

My husband Bruce and I are retired — so naps are now possible. My husband is able to lie back, close his eyes, and in five minutes he is asleep — sleeps for about 10 minutes, then wakes up feeling as if he has had a two hour nap — and goes on. Sometimes he does this several times a day. He calls them “power naps” — and loves them.

I on the other hand, am more “wired” so I can’t drop off as quickly…but even if I just lie down and rest — I get up renewed and refreshed. I am glad some companies are making it possible for their employees to take advantage of this. I am also glad to hear your personal story as well. I am often tempted to drink some coffee — but I believe the nap is the healthier way to go, and your letter confirms it. Thanks.
From: Susan Kahil — Sep 24, 2013

Yes, naps are in my roots from of old. I find that green tea with a few pieces of dark chocolate work much better as a pick me up rather than another coffee, instantly refreshing the mind for the second part of the day’s work; allows one to have more awake hours in the evening and still rise early, knowing there is always another nap and book waiting tomorrow afternoon.

From: Michael Aranoff — Sep 24, 2013

When I asked an artist friend of mine how he dealt with problematic paintings he told me his approach. “I take my paintings to bed with me. I set the work up at the foot of my bed. Its the last thing I see before I close the lights and the first thing I see when I wake up. In the quiet , soft vision of morning I usually see what I need to do next.”

It works for me too.
From: Murray Van Halem — Sep 24, 2013

I’m a bit of a late starter in the studio. I get there my noon, work for three or four hours and then home and off to bed! By then I am so completely exhausted by the painting process, I can hardly keep my eyes open. One hour, and I pop up like a Jack-in the-Box! However, that is it for the day. Next day, same thing. Maybe I’m just getting older.

From: Betty Covington — Sep 24, 2013

I too take a nap every afternoon after lunch. It’s a big help to me mentally..and physicaly.

From: Dirk Heil — Sep 24, 2013

A 30-40 minute nap is an excellent investment. I find it makes me more alert, and for a longer period. And I need less sleep during the night. Longer naps seem to take too long to recover from. I am 66; this may not apply to the younger crowd.

From: Judith Hand — Sep 24, 2013

I read the current letter with a smile after having just awakened from a nap. I have always found naps not only to be useful, but often inescapable. That postprandial dip is probably the reason why siesta societies evolved. Even when I worked in a university office, I took a blanket to work and would just lie down on the floor, spend 10 or 15 minutes sinking into sleep, having a quick dream and rising back up out of sleep totally refreshed and raring to go. I credit my catnaps with allowing me to get by with an average of six hours of sleep, and as you say, I feel as though I have two days in one.

From: Dan Young — Sep 24, 2013

Absolutely….. I need my nap…. It effects my sense of humor more than anything…….. It is still referred to as my “Disco nap” so I guess that dates me…….

Signed, Cranky old man And yes it feels like I get another day
From: Enda Bardell — Sep 24, 2013

I take a 30 minute “brain charger” regularly, which includes 5 minutes for deep breathing and settling in and 5 minutes for waking up, around 2PM after lunch, before I go to my studio to paint. The morning is taken up with non-creative art and personal stuff. The siesta helps me change gears from the mundane to the creative.

In fact, I have been napping in the afternoon for decades, albeit not regularly. It is so refreshing! More than a 20 minute actual nap is too long.
From: Demetra — Sep 24, 2013

I feel deep appreciation for your emails. Also for your art, that is how I found you.

YES to the nap, from experience in Greece. I will have to nap in Vancouver. Also yes my painting is therapy for me. I love beauty and truth, though the 2nd one is ..difficult to sometimes to face.
From: Norman Ridenour — Sep 24, 2013

I was raised a good mid-western fellow, rise early work long and sleep early. The chicken routine it was called.

Now the academic year 1969-70 I was in Barcelona doing research for my doctorate. The archives were open 900-1300 and 1700-2100. So a good lunch, half a bottle of wine and sleep. The result, a whole new day of awake energy. Creative work, reading (esp. a foreign Language), concentrating on anything, we have at most four good hours. Con la siesta tenemos dos veces. Czechs do not understand, they are on ‘chicken hours’.
From: Leslie Tejada — Sep 24, 2013

I’ve been taking naps for many years, and I agree with all of what you say. It becomes possible to give the same in-the-moment attention to tasks in the later afternoon and evening as those in the morning.

From: Jackie Knott — Sep 24, 2013

It would be worthwhile to answer the question, “Why am I tired midday?” There is a physical side that affect the need for naps: poor diet, sleep apnea (naps are one symptom), or just age. That goes beyond a simple power nap in the recliner. Do I need a new mattress, a better pillow, cooler room, let hubby snore in the other bedroom?

Naps can worsen insomnia and kill productivity for days because of natural circadian rhythm. There is no substitute for a full night’s uninterrupted sleep. Too many people nap because they are sleep deprived, and there is ample research to support that as well. Assuming no health issues naps are generally productive but we have to find what works for us individually. Me, I am happy to get five hours a night. Naps? Impossible.
From: Maria Faist — Sep 25, 2013

I’ve just read your letter about afternoon napping. I’ve been doing that for the last 20 years (I’m 47 now) and I can’t tell you how beneficial it is. I’ve had to defend my napping to countless people who have told me that I was just being lazy…but the amount of work/studies/projects that I get done on a regular basis astounds them. Strange that they don’t see a connection. Napping in the afternoon energizes me and I can do meaningful work (whether it involves children, housework, business, or being creative) right up to late evening. No vegging in front of the TV at night for me – I’m out and about, or painting, reading, writing, walking – because I have the energy.

From: Reese Mulliner — Sep 25, 2013
From: Hunter Calder — Sep 25, 2013

I have printed this article and left it with my better half. She admires your work and enjoyed the time we spent with you. This means that you have credibility! With credibility comes justification for what she once regarded as unpardonable sloth! I owe you a debt of gratitude in the form of a bottle of single malt should we cross paths again.

From: Junardi — Sep 25, 2013

Shut the phone off! We live in an age where that is possible. I take full advantage of it to protect my space and provide my sanctuary with a bit more peace. I find my rest to be more complete. We come from a generation who didn’t have a choice and ran to the phone like robots when it rang. I thank the new technology for this particular choice. I also don’t have the phone on while I’m in the studio, unless I’m waiting for a specific call. It provides a deeper, more profound experience in the creative zone.

I’m going to have to look into one of those energy pods! Happy napping!
From: Silvia Forrest — Sep 25, 2013

Interesting how life’s experience can put things into perspective. I’ve always been a big fan of naps but when I was younger I used to feel guilty about taking them since there were so many things I wanted to accomplish and not enough time available, or so I thought. Now that I am older and definitely on the descending portion of life’s curve, I don’t seem to be in a hurry anymore and naps are frequent treats. I’ve had many successes in life, both internal and external as well as several failures and disappointments. I’ve battled serious illness and yet when I look back I see that I’ve been able to achieve things I had never even dreamed of. I don’t know what the future holds for me but I certainly do know that naps are a part of it as well as a desire to calmly continue to explore new horizons. I am approaching my 10,000 hours at the easel and it feels good. Life is sweet.

From: Ian MacDonald — Sep 25, 2013

One thing about financial independence and being your own boss is that you can take a nap when you feel like it.

I am an artist, an author and a business consultant. I like to work for a few hours in the morning then take a break, go to the gym, take care of personal matters and then come home and have my main meal of the day. Then, I invariably I feel sleepy. I nap for twenty minutes and then wake up and work from around 3 PM until I go up to bed around 10:00 PM. For most of my life I was an executive in large international corporations who loved to schedule meetings for just after lunch. It was always a challenge fighting to stay awake in what were often long boring meetings. The odd thing is that I plot most of my books and my images while I am in a state of neither being awake nor asleep. I wake up refreshed and invariably have solved road blocks that I did not know how to overcome before I had my nap. Thus I support taking afternoon naps.
From: Carol Way Wood — Sep 25, 2013

I am a big proponent of naps. I consider it “my hobby”. I still have a day job as the office manager of a private mental health practice. I often come home drained, take a nap, awake refreshed and work happily and intently for three – four hours. I just have to be careful I don’t stay up too late.

From: Eddith Buis — Sep 25, 2013
From: Rick Rotante — Sep 25, 2013

You seem to always hit on topics that have so much importance in my life.

Years ago, whenever I encountered a problem that seemed insurmountable. I would find an opportunity to take a short nap. Fifteen minutes tops. Invariably, upon waking, I would have the solution to the problem and better able to deal with it. I also used naps to alleviate headaches. My theory was, if I could nap and forget what I was thinking for a little while, I would also forget why I had a headache. Worked like a charm all the time. This also worked with pain. Sleep would cause me to forget the pain, I would wake painless. Basically, napping let my mind relax enough to let go of the problem. Oddly, I don’t do it that much any more. I think I now have a better handle on things and don’t let them get so far as to cause me pain. I try and deal with it as it happens.
From: Diane Malcha — Sep 25, 2013
From: Karen — Sep 25, 2013

I, too, have found a nap is a wonderful way to take a break from the studio and come back with a refreshed perspective and lots more energy to solve problems.

In a similar vein, I just got an email from the woman who delivers fresh eggs to us. She said that her hens are getting ready for winter and not producing as much, so the delivery will end for the next several months. Perhaps this can be applied to humans as well…”listening” to the vitality of our creative energy banks is a good idea. Taking that pause from time to time might in fact result in better production later!
From: Emmett J. Ryan, MD — Sep 25, 2013

For over 30 years I took noon time naps before going to the afternoon office. I would often exercise at the Y for about 60 minutes-then take a 20 min or so nap-3 times a week. If I didn’t exercise I would nap mostly at home (without a clock) for 20-45 minutes and then go to office (5 days a week). Only over-napped once in over 30 years. Did this from 1952 to 1986 when I retired from my medical practice. Still take naps in retirement. Now enjoy watercolor painting and still taking workshops.

From: Maritza Bermudez — Sep 25, 2013

My body tells me to take a break. If I’m too tired I can’t function. I feel my eyes dropping and I have the ability to close my eyes sitting and fall asleep for 20 minutes to half an hour. Sometimes I say to myself, I should really lie down, but when I get up to do it, then I am fully awake and cannot do it. Then I can continue to do what I interrupted before.

From: Theresa Eisenbarth — Sep 25, 2013

I use to live in Italy on an exchange when I was 18. They of course have a long standing tradition of taking a nap or a “siesta” in the afternoon. Coming from Canada to Italy, I thought that this was a good excuse to be lazy. As I grow older and a little wiser I suppose, the nap idea hits a chord. Life is busy and a midday nap is as good medicine as meditation.

From: Mark Hofreiter — Sep 26, 2013

Yes! I love naps! I would take one every day if I could. At work I go into a convenient empty office, put my feet up and put the chair back and sleep for a half an hour or so. I wake up very refeshed and lighter feeling. Sometime I sleep in my car. Happy naping!

From: Richard H. Gagnon — Sep 26, 2013

In a recent BBC News report 3 to 5 year olds in day care were tested and it was found that those who took an afternoon nap performed better not only that afternoon, but the effects lasted into the following day. It seems that the nap was found to allow them to retain 10% more of their learning than those children that did not take a nap.

Other research indicated that an afternoon nap reduces the chances of having a heart attack by 60%. Take that along with a baby aspirin that reduces the chances of having a heart attack by 55% and you will reduce the chance of having a heart attack by 115%. Do you think you could pass the surplus along to someone else? OK the math may be a little off but I will take a quick nap and think about it.
From: George Stewart-Hunter. — Sep 26, 2013

When younger we do not need the same naps, when very young we need many naps, and when very old we sleep at the “drop of an eyelid (hat?). After lunch is common, but not for everyone; some may have different times. As a doctor I thought you might appreciate confirmation of your post. I read all your posts eagerly, and I appreciate your classical quotes–part of my mandatory schooling. (On a different note… Does your wife know that you and someone called Dorothy sleep together in the spare room?).

From: Polly Roopnarine — Sep 26, 2013

I like being with people then I like working alone. In college, I took a 20 minute cat nap after my kid came home. It felt good. I stopped taking those naps because I work late on writing for a cause.

From: Martha Dillard — Sep 26, 2013

I’m a doze-in-the-chair napper and you are right, a quick shut eye is a huge help to the rest of the day. In the studio, I generally work standing up. When I decide to sit and contemplate what I’ve just painted, the thing I really need to do is snooze. My great-grandmother held a pencil in her hand and it would drop and wake her up when she dozed off. She claimed that was all the rest she needed and I think she is right.

Your posts are fun to read and inspiring.
From: Patti Howard — Sep 26, 2013

We’ve been setting the timer for 30 mins for the last few years and having a power nap. It IS better if we have it right after lunch as later in the day wrecks your sleeping at night and often makes us “loggy”.

From: Zack Zachariuk — Sep 26, 2013

When I was in Montissori we used to take naps and I missed it in grade school and high school. Now in University where times are more open I go to my dorm after lunch, put my feet up, read a bit and often snooze. We are not allowed to have dogs.

From: Anonymous — Sep 27, 2013

I sleep at least eight hours a night. Therefore I don’t need to sleep during the day and waste precious daylight hours. No-one can paint in artificial light and be sure of getting colours right!

If I hit a wall while doing something creative I just go away and do something else for as long as it takes.
From: Karen Quinton — Sep 27, 2013

I am a pianist and piano teacher, and have always needed to work evenings. I sometimes run out of energy in the late afternoon, and have always found naps wonderfully restorative and relaxing. The phone goes off and the alarm is set- sometimes for as little as 30 minutes. ( Very often I awaken spontaneously). I then face my students or rehearsal partners with renewed optimism and much greater energy. My Russian piano teacher – a famous and busy pianist- would awaken early, practise for a few hours( the very best time to practise) and then go back to bed. When she arose the second time, there was another fresh session ahead of her. Two mornings! She loved it!

From: Irene Sardanis — Sep 27, 2013

Never mind the apple a day, it’s that afternoon nap that keeps the doctor away – and keeps me balanced.

From: Susan Banas — Sep 27, 2013

Most of my adult life I have benefited from naps. When I was working, as a busy RN, I felt my afternoon productivity would be really improved after a post lunch nap..did not happen, my breaks were only enough time to eat, which I needed more. When I had children and worked afternoon shift, I only managed to stay alert and on the ball if I had a nap before I left for work. The ability to do this developed then. Now I am no longer working I often do the crossword with my lunch, fall asleep when I get stuck and finish it when I awake…my mind can seek solutions while I sleep. I always regretted that the jobs I had did not allow time to nap.

From: Carol Morrison — Sep 27, 2013
From: Ruth Shaw — Sep 27, 2013

I was very happy to read this letter. I’m a big believer in the after-lunch nap preceded by a short read of a current novel…. but if I dip too low and stay asleep too long, I awake feeling groggy and slightly drugged. An hour is the absolute limit. To help protect myself from this important private re-balancing time I’ve learned to turn off the phone so I don’t get disturbed I’ve always admired the European culture and the way they set up their schedules…. work till 1 or 2… shut everything down and re-open at 5. Very wise! However, in North American people don’t know how to pace themselves, and are slaves to a pretty outdated work-ethic. (more and more retail outlets are beginning to open on Christmas day, which was in some senses, the only day that the world was quiet!!!) I also believe that meditation (even for 5 minutes) is so important too…. it not only resets the brain, it actually changes it (in a good way)… slowing down unruly neurotic thinking.

Happy Napping…!
From: Holly (not a Dachshund) — Sep 29, 2013

Merlin, Pippin, Frodo and I call this a power nap, very restorative and nurturing. xo.

From: Donna Veeder — Oct 01, 2013

I love this one! I am a napper and find that it does get problems solved and lets in new ideas. I really need a nap to sort of change gears at times. If I go to town for errands, I find that napping re-sets my brain. I had not tried it for going back to my art. Thanks for the suggestion. I do have a friend who naps after her long morning of painting. I will send this to her.

  Featured Workshop: Mark Hobson
092713_robert-genn Mark Hobson Workshops Held in Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta, Canada   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order.

Days End

oil painting, 18 x 24 inches by Becky Joy, AZ, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013. That includes Mo Teeuw of Norfolk and Lincolnshire, UK who wrote, “I tended to feel guilty if I had a nap after lunch but, not any more. In fact I shall make a practice of it.” And also Louise Metcalfe of Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa who wrote, “I love a 10 minute power nap… I search the back of my eyelids for new inspiration. Even if I don’t find any I’m always in a better mood for the sleep anyway!” And also Marianne Ginsberg of Silicon Valley, CA, USA who wrote, “Napping is a sign of advanced spiritual development. It proves you can let go.”  

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