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Michigan Arts & Culture

Essay: Need for Naps

When my daughter was about two years old, she stopped taking naps. I resisted this transition—not because she needed a nap but because I needed her to take one. 

While she slept, I could do a load of laundry, a batch of dishes. Sometimes, I could even take a nap!

I felt guilty about this because I thought adults weren’t supposed to take naps.

If my father stretched out on the couch after dinner and was heard snoring, he insisted he was only “resting his eyes.”

When my grandmother tucked me in for a nap, she’d say, “I think I’ll lie down for a little while.” Nothing was said about sleeping but I could hear her even breathing while I lay awake counting the roses on the wallpaper.

The belief that adults don’t take naps followed me around for years. I remember lying on a bed in a London hotel, too tired to move but too guilty to sleep. “I’m in London,” I thought, “I don’t have time to nap.”

Finally I read a book by May Sarton called “Journal of a Solitude” in which she wrote, “It is never a waste of time… to lie down and rest even for a couple of hours.”

She didn’t say “nap,” of course, but now I knew the code words.

I was just going to rest my eyes.