True confession, the final ten or so years before retirement, my idea of the perfect weekend included at least two long luxurious naps. Therefore, one would think that now that retirement is a reality, every afternoon would include a nap. Not so.
Yesterday afternoon road weariness from the fifteen hours on the road the previous day settled in like a weight. The idea of curling up in bed, closing sand filled eyes, screamed like a Siren luring with the seductive promise of rest. So strong was the urge that I made it all the way to the bed, laid my head on the pillow, took a deep breath…4 seconds inhale, 7 seconds hold, 8 seconds exhale, just like the article on Facebook said. Rather than rocking me into dream land, at the end of the breathing cycle my eyes popped open, my heart races, while my mind erupted with lists, memories, and the incredible sense that to Nap was to waste Time.
And heaven knows, I don’t have a lot of time to waste.
As you might expect, there are people who have studied napping in older adults. In an month long study with 45 senior adults* researchers found that a nap a day did not effect the night time sleep of the test group. In fact there is evidence that suggests the afternoon nap benefits senior adults who typically cannot sleep longer than 6 hours a night. Enough sleep 7-8 hours in a 24 hour period helps keep our minds and bodies healthy.
So what is happening to me, this touch of panic that overcomes me when I try to catch a few Z’s during the day, because that is what it is…PANIC. Fear of wasting a single second of this life God has blessed me with has a strangle hold on me when I lay down to sleep. I have visited nursing homes, seen residents sitting up in wheelchairs or on couches, heads tipped to one side, mouths open, drooling in their sleep. Perhaps now as I attempt an afternoon nap, I see myself drifting toward that reality and that scares me.
Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:7, “God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.”
The realization that in the vulnerable moments before resting my mind and body, fear with its insidious and life zapping talons scratched open my fear pockets makes me angry. It has awakened my resolve in my seventh decade to move in a balance of life that includes adequate rest, even afternoon naps, physical activity, laughter, time with friends and family, new experiences and a daily time of worship and study.
And if I end up parked in the hall of a nursing home, head resting on my chest, drooling in my sleep, I hope I am the loudest snorer on that wing. But I am going to trust the one who said:
I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the LORD. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future. Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will search for me. And when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me! I will let you find me,” says the LORD. “And I will bring you back from your captivity.” (Jeremiah 29:11-14a NCV)
He has good plans for me. He has a good future for me. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, I need to be searching for Him. I need to be praying. HE LISTENS. He will let me find Him. AND no matter where I end up, HE will bring me BACK TO HIM.
So now I really think I need a nap.
Campbell SS, Stanchina MD, Schlang JR, Murphy PJ. Effects of a Month-Long Napping Regimen in Older Individuals. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society2011;59(2):224-232. doi:10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03264.x.