One of the strongest recollections I have of my early years of life on this planet (or any planet for that matter) has to do with the requirement that I take an afternoon nap. I’m sure that there were many times in those years between ages one and four where I was so exhausted by the morning’s activities that I enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to crash for a couple of hours but, to be quite honest, I don’t remember those. Instead, my only memories of afternoon naps are intimately connected with resistance. I recall days when I kicked and screamed on the way into my bedroom. I remember laying awake listening to the world turning outside my window. And I remember very clearly that day when my dad waited until I was down for my nap to begin building a backyard fence. It’s not that I imagined that I would be a useful addition to the project, but I do recall the sense that I had a right to be there, if only to watch the process.
When I went to kindergarten, we had a designated period during the day where we pulled out our mats and tried to sleep. I was in the morning class and I don’t think anyone (except the teacher) really looked forward to the fifteen-minutes-that-felt-like-thirty dedicated to this daily ritual.
As a parent, I’ve come to recognize the importance of the afternoon nap for my children as an opportunity to keep the kids on track, grab a few moments to catch up on personal work and to ensure a certain degree of calm and pleasantness in the hours leading up to evening bedtime.
As a teacher, I’ve come to appreciate these summer months as a time to anticipate and relish the afternoon nap for myself as one of the pleasures of being on vacation. Even if I don’t decide to actually grab a quick siesta after lunch, I know that the option is there. It might be just ten or fifteen minutes but the luxury of dozing off in the backyard or on the couch in the living room is a pleasure that ranks up there with…well…
I’m not a sleeper-inner. If I’m not up by 6 a.m. I feel that I’ve wasted the best part of the day. So, the afternoon nap, for me, enables me to go much deeper into the evening without feeling that I’ve suddenly lost steam.
So here’s to the next two months, and here’s to the afternoon nap—a tradition that, like many other aspects of childhood, seems to come back later in life to play a signifcant role!
So I’ve sent a letter to the Ministry of Education suggesting that the requirement to include 20 minutes of daily physical education to our students be replaced with a new mandate that would see every student and teacher have the opportunity to take a daily afternoon nap. Can you imagine what that could do for school morale, well-being and Post Meridian Alertness (PMA)?
What do you think? Would you support my efforts to promote the afternoon nap as a strategy to an improved education system?
Wait, why don’t you sleep on it, and let me know in the morning!