Go ahead and nap — if the time is right

We can all agree that nodding off is not a good idea for on-duty air-traffic controllers. When I'm on a plane, nodding off is not one of my options. All around me others are dozing happily, including Darling Husband. The cabin is darkened, the cabin crew is nowhere to be seen, but it is my fervent hope that no one in charge is snoozing, too. • The idea that the controller might be asleep . . . well, I don't want to think about that, either.

When I was a little kid, I had to take a nap after lunch. I viewed the required downtime as an enormous imposition. I could miss something, perish the thought. (Maybe we didn't get enough sugar with lunch way back then. Today's kids are much more wired than we were.)

We each had our own little rug in kindergarten, and we spread them out on the floor late in the morning. We were supposed to have a little rest. There was always a kid who raised his hand to report that some other kid's eyes were open. "And how do you know that, Johnny?" Oops. Busted.

In recent years, articles have appeared in many publications saying it's a good idea for workers to take little naps during the day. They return to work refreshed and revitalized. That can't be a bad thing, though it can be inconvenient.

It goes against the grain for multi-tasking caffeine freaks. And their competition wouldn't dream of napping. Who wants to be the Dagwood Bumstead of the office?

It seems to me that people used to understand that those who never rested were less productive. I don't know when we lost that idea. Maybe it was with the arrival of power drinks. The ads warn us about 2 o'clock. Apparently that's a dangerously drowsy time.

Now, I enjoy my two cups of coffee in the morning, but morning is the operative word here. Coffee in the afternoon or evening means I better have a good book on hand because I won't be sleeping. Don't these guys in the control towers have a coffee machine?

When the weather is cold and the days are short, Darling Husband tends to take long naps during the day. He is physically a bit bearlike. I wonder if hibernation is a factor in this behavior. Does his metabolism slow down? I don't know, but I do know he eats less during those months, too.

Cold weather does not seem to be a factor for the air-traffic controllers caught napping on the job, however. I know that a lot of people pull overnight shifts without it being a safety problem.

I was in the hospital recently and I bless the staff who were available and alert in the middle of the night. They always had stuff to do. I had some very chatty people coming in during the wee small hours. Some told me they prefer the night shift, that it's a little less hectic than daytime in a hospital. But something is always happening in the hospital. Apparently that's not the case in some air-traffic control towers.

I would never be a good candidate for that sort of job. Though I can be a bit of a night owl, when I get tired I go to bed and to sleep. I hate being someplace that isn't conducive to my sleep desires. So when there is a good, comfy place to lie down nearby, I can be counted on to use that to my advantage. I don't think of it as laziness, lack of ambition or sloth. As an intelligent, intellectually curious woman, it should be obvious that I'm (ho hum) conducting sleep research. No sacrifice is too great in the interest of science.

It's now about 2 in the afternoon. There's a comfy bed nearby. (Yawn!) Probably a good time to do some horizontal research.

Sheila Stoll is happy to hear from readers but cannot respond to individual queries. Write her at PMB No. 309, 7904 E Chaparral Road, No. 110, Scottsdale, AZ 85250.

Go ahead and nap — if the time is right 05/24/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 24, 2011 5:30am]

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