On Napping, Part 2: A Field Guide to Naps & Advancements in Napping Technology

Ah, that was a refreshing nap.

While my neck still has not become any wider, my napping skills have improved and have been called “impressive”, “epic” or, more negatively, “decadent” by those not so generous.  While those adjectives are spot on, a nap for me is not just a nap. Far from it, in fact. My years of napping, thinking about napping, scheming to nap, and wanting to nap have allowed me to develop additions to the taxonomy of napping. Call it additions to the Field Guide to Naps. (A locational grouping of naps by another devotee can be found here.)

The Post-Prandial Nap – This nap is one of the most common to the general public. It usually occurs after a big meal, say a brunch on a rainy Sunday when the weather, too many Bloody Marys and Eggs Benedict conspire to make the rest of the day totally unproductive. The most popular Post-Prandial Nap is, of course, the After-Thanksgiving Meal Nap. Who hasn’t enjoyed this? (I will tell you who:  the women in my family while I was growing up. It seemed the men always had the opportunity to fall asleep on the couch while watching the Cowboys beat somebody and/or the Lions get beaten while the women had to clean up. That’s the South for you. I’ve been trying to implement this same practice in California, but, alas I have not been successful.)

Offensive Naps – This is one I have patented. On the surface it might appear a little unnecessary or decadent, but it serves a very important purpose. Basically, this is a nap that is taken before the need for a nap comes on. On the weekends I know I will need a nap around 1:00 or 2:00 PM. So, to put off put off that nap, I’ll take a mid-morning nap, usually around the same time as my nine-month old son takes his first nap of the day. I can usually make it the rest of the day without a nap by offensively napping. But, I have been known to take advantage of my son’s second nap by taking my own second nap. (This, I think, is where “decadent” comes in.)

Defensive Naps – Next to the Post-Prandial Naps, these are the most common. You’re tired, you’ve worked too much, or stayed out too late on a Friday or Saturday night and you need a nap. We’ve all been there.

Secret Naps – These could be a sub-set of Defensive Naps but their location and stealth put them in a category all their own. You’ve stayed out too late on a school night or you’re exhausted from working a lot and you need a nap. But it is the middle of the work-day, so what do you do? If you are lucky and live close to work, you can make it home for a power nap and get back to work in about an hour. If you are not so fortunate and you work in San Francisco (as I once did) but live in the East Bay or live elsewhere and you have a 45 minute commute by car or train, you have to be a little more resourceful. One option is to power nap in your car. If your car is in cool, dark garage, great. If, however, you live in Houston or Arizona, you could die trying this and it is not recommended.

If you work in a central business district and you lack a car, I give you the following advice: get friendly with some hotel workers. Not necessarily pull an Owen Wilson from Bottle Rocket and hook up with a hotel maid (unless, of course, that is your thing), but chat up some front desk folks and/or maids, introduce them to a few friends of yours by the name of Lincoln, Hamilton, or Benjamin and score yourself an empty hotel room for a secret mid-day power nap. For those of you in the Financial District/Union Square areas of San Francisco I provide to you below the prices I negotiated with various hotel employees before moving to the OC. You’re price may vary depending on frequency of your naps and your individual negotiation skills.

  1. Club Quarters: $10
  2. Hotel Monaco: $10 plus a venti mocha from Starbucks
  3. Hyatt – Embarcadero: $15 plus a Cuban sandwich
  4. Sir Francis Drake: $20
  5. The Omni: $25
  6. The Four Seasons: $35

If those prices are too steep, you’ll need to get creative. You can hop on BART and ride it all the way to Pittsburg and back.  A friend of mine used to take power naps at work by sitting in the bathroom stall. Secluded benches are good, but if you are in San Francisco, you’ll likely need to fight with a homeless person for the bench. For five bucks you can usually forego the fisticuffs, but for sanitation purposes you’ll need to make sure you bring your own newspapers.

Accidental Naps – You come home from work, perhaps a bit tired and with no plans, plop on the couch, flip through the all the cable channels, find nothing on, pick up a magazine, start reading an article and find yourself getting sleepy. You don’t think about it, you don’t fight it, you just go with. You wake up several hours, still in your work clothes, surprised to find it dark outside and that you fell asleep for so long. That is an accidental nap. A sub-set of this category is known to parents of infants. You start to rock your baby to sleep for his/her nap in a rocking chair and you accidentally fall asleep before the baby does. This usually does not make your spouse very happy, so watch out for this one.

Vacation Naps – These are doubly sweet because you are on vacation. The ingredients will vary person to person for the ideal conditions but mine include: a pina colada, a book, an umbrella, a minimum of four towels, and about ten minutes.

Yes, with all of this napping, it is amazing that I get anything done.

My excessive napping may put me out of the norm, but I like to think I am in good company, nonetheless. The most famous devotee of the nap that comes to mind is Harry Truman. He often took naps while he was President. Granted, he had World War II, had to make the decision to drop two atom bombs and the Korean conflict to deal with and rightly deserved all the rest he could get. Those were some weighty issues that would exhaust anyone. (We’ll let the question of what I do to deserve frequent and long naps go unasked.)

Harry Truman thinking about his next nap.

I have discovered I am not alone in by belief of the importance of napping as scientists and inventors are creating new and better ways of napping.  From lowest tech to highest tech, the following products will enhance your napping experience:

1) Open eyes drawn on pieces of paper to tape over your eyes while sleeping:

Only mildly effective in securing a successful nap.

2) The Ostrich Pillow:


Or from a different angel, the Admiral Ackbar Pillow:

ackbar pillow

No, Admiral. It’s a NAP!

3) Napping pods that can be found in the workplace of enlightened employers:

So jealous of this.


I feel the need for a Secret Nap coming on. Sadly, my employer is not very enlightened, so  Westin South Coast Plaza here I come! And in the words of John Lennon:

Everybody seems to think I’m lazy
I don’t mind, I think they’re crazy
Running everywhere at such a speed
Till they find there’s no need (There’s no need)

Please, don’t spoil my day, I’m miles away
And after all I’m only sleeping

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