Tag: naps

“Hey Siri, Let’s Nap”

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More than a year ago I began exploring the Shortcuts feature that Apple introduced to iOS (and later, into MacOS). It took me a while to figure out what the shortcuts were all about and longer to figure out a practical use for shortcuts. There were plenty of examples of things that people were using shortcuts for, but I was looking for something practical for me. Eventually, I found it.

At the time, it was my job to put our youngest daughter down for her nap, and I usually napped with her. We napped at lunch and our routine was always the same. I’d look for when my next meeting was–if I had one within the next 2 hours–and set an alarm so that I’d wake up before my meeting. Then I’d adjust the volume of my phone and put on a playlist that we’d listen to while we napped. Inevitably, my phone would buzz with some alert or other so I’d then remember to put my phone into Do Not Disturb mode. Of course, I’d forgot to take it out of DnD and wonder why I saw no notifications for the rest of the afternoon.

Could this all be handled by a Shortcut?

It took me an hour of two of playing around with shortcuts, but I finally created one that did just what I wanted it to do. Because Siri can activate a shortcut by voice command, I named my shortcut “Let’s nap.” When we were ready to take our nap, I’d set my phone down and say, “Hey Siri, Let’s Nap.” And Siri would take care of everything else.

Here is what my shortcut does:

First, it sets the volume on my phone to 22%, which experiment has shown is the perfect volume for napping. Not too loud, and not too soft:

Next, the shortcut plays a playlist that we listen to while we nap. The playlist is called “Grace Music” because it is a playlist that I used to play for my older daughter when she would nap. The shortcut sets the playlist to repeat indefinitely.

This is where things get interesting. All I wanted to do when it was time for us to nap was say “Let’s nap” and have the Shortcut take care of everything else. So, what it does next is check my calendar for the next meeting that shows up on the day the shortcut runs:

Having gotten the next event, I filter the list of upcoming events for things on my calendar. It seems like I am filtering twice here, but for some reason that I can’t recall at the moment, this was required to find the next event.

If the event is within the next 2 hours, then I grab the start date of the calendar event and subtract five minutes from it. I use that time to create an alarm so that I get woken up before the next meeting (assuming I am not already awake, which I usually am.)

I also turn on Do Not Disturb until the same time the alarm goes off:

Now, if there is no event on my calendar, or there is an event more than 2 hours in the future, then there is no need to set an alarm. I just set Do Not Disturb until 2 hours from now and that’s it.

My youngest daughter stopped napping for good at the end of the summer when school started and she began kindergarten. But I enjoy my lunchtime naps and I still use this shortcut nearly every day. It works like a charm. I eat a quick lunch, lay down, say, “Hey Siri, let’s nap” and Siri and my shortcut take care of everything else for me.

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Why Give Up Napping?

apartment bed carpet chair
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The most frequent piece of advice I get when complaining that I don’t sleep well at night is: give up your nap. Kelly has suggested this a number of times, as have people I’ve complained to about my poor night’s sleep. I’m not sure these people appreciate the value of a good afternoon nap.

My sleeping problems are relatively new. They coincide with the pandemic, were much worse during those stressful early months, got a little better, and have settled on a kind of mediocre plane, just mediocre enough to be annoying. Taking a page from business writer Jim Collins1, I rate my sleep on a scale of -2 (the worst) to +2 (the best), with 0 begin a perfectly satisfactory night’s sleep. Prior to the pandemic, my sleep was generally in the range of 0-to-1. During the pandemic it has fluctuated between -2 and 0 with a rare 1 in there out of sheer exhaustion. The thing is, in pre-pandemic days, my average was generally above 0. In other words, better than satisfactory. And I was napping then, too. This makes me suspicious of any advice suggesting that napping is the cause of my sleeping problems.

I’m not certain of when it began, but I have diary entries from the mid-1990s referring to my lunchtime naps in my office at work. I’d close my door during lunch and nap for a little while. Eventually, this evolved in the following daily routine: (1) eat for 10 minutes, (2) read for 20 minutes, (3) nap for 30 minutes. When it came to napping, I had a sweatshirt I kept in a desk drawer that I used as a pillow. I put my head down on my desk, or later, my meeting table, rested it on my makeshift pillow, and usually I was out in seconds, waking feeling refreshed when thirty minutes had expired. I never seemed to oversleep.

When the Littlest Miss was born, this napping evolved. I would nap with her. When she was an infant, I’d cradle her in my arms, sitting in the rail chair in our bedroom, and rock her to sleep, rocking myself to sleep at the same time. As she got older, she and I would take post-lunchtime naps together. This summer, she began growing out of napping, but since I have been napping at lunch since the mid-1990s, I have not. After lunch, I head down to the guest room (Kelly is often working in our bedroom) and nap. Just like those days in my office, I fall asleep in seconds, and wake feeling refreshed.

Indeed, my afternoon naps seem to be the only sleep I get that feels quite, peaceful, and undisturbed, even by dreams. For me, just a little good sleep is better than a lot of bad sleep. Why would I give up such good sleep, knowing it would likely make little difference for the bad sleep? I’ve gave up caffeine in order to improve my sleep at night, and it didn’t seem to do any good. (For the sleep, that is. Since I was a big caffeine addict, it was probably good for me regardless.) Why give up napping?

I was thinking about all of this as I went downstairs for my afternoon nap yesterday. There, on the dresser in the guest room, was a paperback copy of All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum. I’d never seen it before, and assumed it was Kelly’s2. Curious, I picked it up as I settled under the covers and read a few pages. Pages 4-5 cover the basics: the things we really need to know, and right there between “Live a balanced life,” and “watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together” was this gem:

Take a nap every afternoon.

That triggered a memory and as I sat down to write this essay, I pulled every Andy Rooney book from my shelves, searching for something I knew he’d written about the joy of naps. I found it in his 1986 essay collection, Word for Word, back when his books still went under the byline Andrew A. Rooney. There, on pages 279-281 was an essay aptly titled, “Napping.” Rooney writes,

Naps are underrated. I don’t know why we dismiss napping as an inconsequential little act. The word itself doesn’t even sound important. I think everyone should get off his or her feet and lie down for a few minutes at some point during a long day.

He continues,

Napping got a bad reputation somewhere along the line and I resent it. For some reason, people who don’t nap feel superior to those who do. Nappers try to hide it. They don’t let on that they drop off once in a while because they know what other people will say.

Indeed! They will say things like, “Maybe you should give up napping in order to get a better night’s sleep,” when in fact, it was only recently that my nighttime sleeping has been impacted. I slept perfectly well for 23 years before the pandemic and took a daily lunchtime nap during that time, too. It is really the nap that is a problem? Of course, a non-napper would argue that if I hadn’t been napping during those 23 years, I might have slept even better at night.

In another essay, “How To Sleep” in his 2006 book Out of My Mind, Rooney writes,

I usually get six or less [hours of sleep at night], but then I get sleepy after lunch and ruin my night’s sleep with a nap. A five-minute nap seems to mean as much as an hours sleep at night. I realize I’m luckier than most because I’ve been on the job for so long at CBS that I have a couch in my office. I’d rather have the couch than a raise or another week off in the summer. Naps are one of the best things in life. They have all the good feeling of a night’s sleep without taking so much time. [Emphasis mine.]

Well, I like my afternoon naps. They are quiet, peaceful, daytime sleeping. The sun filters into the room making it bright and airy. I listen to a playlist that the Littlest Miss and I fell asleep to together back in her napping days (all of two months ago), and it is the only time I can actually seem to manage to sleep on my back. I fall asleep almost instantly and rest in a kind of dreamless reverie until I awaken naturally a little while later, feeling refreshed.

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  1. He rates his days on this scale. Checkout his interview with Tim Ferris on Episode #361 of the Tim Ferris Show podcast for more details.
  2. It was. She dug it out of a box in the attic while looking for something else.

A Good Nap

I try to get one good nap every day. I used to be bad at napping, but after our youngest daughter was born, I began to nap when she napped. This habit continued and it has become a daily ritual that I look forward to. Usually, we head down to the guest room, but on our nap playlist, and we are both asleep within a few minutes. We have a good routine down. I usually drift off for 20 minutes or so. The Littlest Miss is usually out for at least an hour.

We nap in the guest room, which is down stairs, and since she doesn’t like being down there alone, I usually setup a FaceTime video between my office and a laptop that I leave in the guest room. That way, when the Littlest Miss awakens, she sees me and can let me know she is done napping.

These brief naps are surprisingly refreshing. I miss those days when we don’t have our naps together. Yesterday was one such day. These happen, although not often. She is a real grouch in the evenings if she doesn’t get her nap so we encourage it.

The routine we have worked out is pretty simple. We she gets home from pre-school, the Littlest Miss has her lunch. She can then have a little play time, after which she and I head downstairs, put on our playlist, and drift off. It is rare when we are both not asleep within minutes. We measure this in “songs.” Usually, we are both asleep before the second song in our 35 minute playlist is over. I usually wake up toward the end of the playlist.

On Thursday, the Littlest Miss finished pre-K. She is now a rising kindergartner, and as such, she will be in school for full days come next school year. That means no more naps at home–at least during the week. And since this is about the same age our two older kids stopped napping, I suspect we are coming to the end of our napping time soon. We’ve got the summer left, and that’s it.

For me, it is bittersweet. I try to savor every nap I get to take with the Littest Miss knowing there aren’t that many more ahead of us. For her part, the Littlest Miss has been napping for shorter intervals, and is more resistant than she used to be to head down for a nap. I am growing into them, while she is growing out of them.

It is a lazy Saturday morning, cool, wet, and dreary, a day right out of The Cat in the Hat. Already, I am looking forward to a good nap, just about an hour away as I write this. I try not to think about it too much, but I know there aren’t too many of these left. The summer will fly by, as it always does, fall will be upon us. The good naps will dwindle to the just the weekends, but I suspect even that won’t last long.

I’ll take what I can get. There’s nothing quite like a good nap.

2 hour nap

5:30 PM local time

I got in my 2 hour nap, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but my time is so messed up right now that I kept waking up having no idea what time it was. I kept feeling as though I was going to be late for something. And I also didn’t hear when housekeeping buzzed and at one point, I woke up and there was a woman in the room. When she saw me laying in bed, she half-shrieked, apologized, and headed off.

After 2 hours, I felt completely disoriented, but it was nothing that a good old Starwood shower couldn’t cure. The bathroom is really very nice in this room, although I have no idea how the bidet works. For that matter, there is a complicated array of towels above the bidet and I’m not sure if they have anything to do with it either.

I feel much better now. I’ve showered, changed my clothes and I’m heading out to roam around Venice for a while.

No time to respond to comments at the moment. More later.

Weird afternoon

I’ve had a weird afternoon. I read this morning until just about noon at which point I was feeling sleepy. I decided to take a nap. Heck, it’s the weekend, right, and I’ve been working hard. So I climbed into bed, put on some music, and proceeded to fall asleep. For three hours! I can’t recall the last time I decided to doze off in the early afternoon, and then proceed to sleep half of the afternoon away!

While sleeping, I had a dream that I had a son. He must have been about three or four years old in my dream and he kind of looked like me. At one point, I caught him staring at me in an innocent, three-year old kind of way and when I looked back at him, and realized that he was my son, I got this eerie feeling, as if I suddenly knew what all parents know about their kids, all of the pride and joy and frustration and disappointment, the hope and the fear all rolled up into one fraction of a second–and then it passed. There were other parts to the dream, but I don’t remember them clearly. Needless to say I was relieved when I woke up.

No gym again today. I’ve only been to the gym 3 times in the last 8 days and so this week was more or less a wash because of being sick (and lazy). I’m starting up the routine and again on Monday, continuing from where I left off. And I’m getting back on the wagon with respect to eating well, which I having been doing so much of lately.

A perfectly constructed sack lunch

There’s nothing like a perfectly constructed sack lunch in the middle of the day to take your mind off work and allow you to eat, relax and read in comfort.

My book (which I don’t eat, of course), a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some cookies, a banana, carrots, and a caffeine-free CokeTM. Eat for 10 minutes, read for 20 minutes and top it all off with a relaxing 30 minute nap.

Now that’s the life!

Tired afternoon

I got home from work around 4:50 PM and sat down to read for a while. I quickly felt myself growing sleepy, so I decided to read in the bedroom. The last time I looked at the clock it read 5:50 PM. There was still daylight outside. And then I dozed off and woke up a few minutes ago, at 8 PM, completely disoriented (although slightly rested). Weird!

So I got up, packed my lunch for tomorrow, got things ready (just cardio tomorrow afternoon so I don’t have to lug my gym bag), paid some bills, and now, at 8:20 PM, I’m back in bed. I’m going to try reading for a while longer (I’m currently 240 pages through Lunar Prospector) but I’m still groggy and I have a feeling I won’t last long. That’s fine, though, because I can use more than 7 hours of sleep every now and then. Still, I forget that days like today start early for me, at 4:30 AM and that’s probably why I was so tired this afternoon.