Afternoon delight.

Dear Friends,

Yesterday, a reader and friend asked me to share my Top 5 conditions for the perfect nap. I am all too happy to do so because (at the risk of evoking an improper association) napping is pure afternoon delight.

I am a pro at napping. Just ask my closest friends and family. I have elevated napping to an art form and nearly nothing makes me happier or more balanced or clear-headed than a good nap.

There is photographic evidence to support this claim, by the way.  I’m not going to show you because, frankly, it’s embarrassing, but my friends and family have snapped photos of me napping and catnapping in all kinds of locations. It’s sort of what I do.

And since I do it so often, and so well, here are my Top 5 conditions for the perfect nap:

  1. It must be at least two hours past when you have risen and no less than four hours before you turn in again. Anything outside this window, and you won’t have the best nap.
  2. It should be no cooler than 69 degrees and no warmer than 71 degrees. Actually, it should be 70 degrees. Again, a narrow window, but perfection is elusive and temperature plays a big role in napping. Too chilly and you’ll need a cover. Too warm and you won’t rest comfortably.
  3. A made bed is the perfect place to nap. I’ve napped everywhere from school busses to park benches to uncomfortable sofas. I even napped under a shrub at an amusement park once. (And, no, I wasn’t inebriated. Just youthful and exhausted.) A bed ensures you can stretch out and rest comfortably. You want it made so the linens aren’t bunched up around you or uncomfortably lumpy. And remember, the temperature will be right so you won’t need covers.
  4. Never nap in a dark room. It’s fine to turn off the artificial light, but natural light from windows is a must. If you nap in a dark room, you risk sleeping too long and/or waking up disoriented.  You’re napping, not slumbering.
  5. Napping is meant to be done in a quiet place. If you are otherwise located, you’re catnapping, not napping. There’s a big difference between catching 40 winks on public transportation (which I’ve done more times than I can count) and positioning yourself for a proper nap. One doesn’t nap in front of the TV, especially when the entire household is crowded around the TV watching the big game.  I do it all the time; I’m just pointing out it doesn’t qualify as napping. It qualifies you as the dope who falls asleep during the game and drools on the sofa. (I do this so often my family once snapped a photo after they stuck a bottle of bourbon in my arms while I was sleeping in front of the TV on Thanksgiving day. They thought it would be funny, I suppose, for my grandchildren to suspect Granny used to hit the bottle all too often.)

If you’ve been napping improperly, I hope you’ll take my advice and do it right.  And if you’re not a napper, well then I pity you. Life is short and I can’t help but wonder why you’re wasting it that way.

With gratitude {for one of life’s greatest pleasures},

Joan the napper, catnapper, snoozer, drooler and notorious sleepyhead who thinks Kindergarten got it right and the workplace got it wrong because wouldn’t we all be a whole lot happier (dare I say, filled with gratitude) if we could roll out the little mats and have nap-time at the office?



  1. Yay! I certainly appreciate the crash course on proper napping technique. Getting some of the terminology clarified is long overdue and I’m grateful to have a reference in place.

    I totally agree about it not being a nap if you get under the bed linens, but personally I do prefer a very light cover (we keep one across the foot of our bed). I’m one of those lizard types who needs to be a few degrees warmer than room temp to really relax.

    Do you think great nappers are born or made? Just wondering…..

  2. The author. says:

    Oh, definitely born! I’ve been a confirmed napper since my infancy, and I have plenty of friends who NEVER nap. I’ve birthed a napper, too. Kate follows in her mother’s footsteps every chance she gets.

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