The Art of Napping

TWO WEEKS AGO, Dr. Ruth came to Harvard and implied that all this school needs is one good...Judging from the hordes of sex-crazed lunatics who raved inside and panted outside of Science Center B, Harvard students are sickeningly repressed about sex. Our editorial staff tried find some solutions to our dearth of sexual activity, but we were too repressed ourselves to even write about the subject.

I don't have any answers to the sex thing, but I do have an alternate way of making students in this pressure-cooker of a school less uptight. Take naps.

If everyone on this campus would sleep a little more often, we might not get so frustrated. With naps, we would attain some sense of satisfaction and give ourselves occasional tidbits of exquisite pleasure.

Instead of sitting in the Science Center all afternoon or hunting through Lamont for the most comfortable chair, students should go back to their rooms, curl up in their comfy beds and sleep. Napping is not a sign of sloth or irresponsibility. It is the mark of a truly relaxed person who knows the value of a small time investment toward improving general health and productivity.

TAKE ME AS evidence: I nap all the time. At least once a day. Sometimes, I snuggle up in my covers two or three, maybe four times a day and analyze the inside of my eyelids. On weekends, when I am stuck inside reading all day, I don't even get up between naps. I just roll over and pick up my book until I fall asleep again.


I nap whenever I am home--before lunch, after dinner, between classes, after the news, before I write a paper, while I'm writing a paper. More often that not, my after-lunch naps and my pre-dinner naps run into each other.

My favorite time to nap is before class in the morning, which is, of course, right after I wake up. I get dressed, have breakfast and read the paper. No matter how late I get up in the morning, I still end up with 15 or 20 minutes with nothing to do. There's no reason to go to class early. Why should I sit in Sever reading "Come to the Kroks" and "My T.F. asked me out" over and over?

I don't know what most people do with this extra time; the normal thing is probably to pick up a book. But my philosophy is that I am going to forget anything I do at the beginning of the day, so I might as well forget that I took a nap. Then I won't have to count it in the grand tally of naps for the week.

When I first came to Harvard, I thought I was narcoleptic or on the verge of becoming comatose. But now I am confident that my sleep habits, strange even when compared to those of typical Harvard nappers, are really the best way to live.

NAPPING IS a definite art. It takes a lot of effort to get to a point where you can push aside the concerns of a hectic life at any time and dive between your sheets. Napping only has a stigma because our parents forced us to nap when we were little and we resented it. Staying awake all day was what we thought separated adults from children. We were wrong.

What we were waiting for as children surely was not pulling an all-nighter to finish a paper. We weren't looking forward to 3 a.m. caffeine rushes that make the words of Locke's "Second Treatise on Government" swim in front of our eyes. We just wanted to stay up and watch "Saturday Night Live." What we should have learned by now is that too many consecutive hours of consciousness ruin a good life.

Taking a nap revives the spirit, clears the mind and relieves stress. It's better than meditation. It's better than a hot bath. It's even better than soap operas for forgetting what real life is all about. Is it better than sex? Well, you can decide that. But remember: Simply getting into bed can't be bad practice.

I nap before I start any kind of work. I lie down, close my eyes and meditate the eternal truth. When I wake up, I am refreshed and I can hit the books. If I get paper block in the middle of the night, I just take a nap, and I then I wake up--usually. After a long walk home to the Quad, I take a nap. When it's rainy and cold outside, I take a nap. It always makes me feel better. Kind of a warm, fuzzy feeling.

Many people have pointed out a glaring Catch-22 in my nap theory. If you are stressed about not having enough time to finish a paper, how can you spare the time to take a nap?

Well, you can't, but that's the beauty of it. By taking a nap, you trick yourself into believing that you have plenty of time. I mean, you'd have to be crazy to take a nap when you have a 20-page research paper due the next morning. So when you actually do snooze for a half hour, you convince yourself that your work is not going to take you all night.

MY PARENTS sometimes worry about how much I nap. But my father, at this very moment, is probably reading this editorial. He is stretched out on his bed, and in a few minutes he will put down the newspaper, take off his glasses, and take a nap himself.

Many of you might be hit with an inexplicable desire to sleep after reading this. I hope--but can't entirely expect--that you'll nap not out of boredom, but out of inspiration. Napping could provide too many benefits for Harvard's social scene for me to be picky, however. I'll take my results any way I can.

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