There may be a wrong way to nap, but there’s no wrong way to wear a ribbon.
The difference between you and a cat is that the domesticated feline has mastered the art of the nap.
You, meanwhile, are a snoozing masochist. You crash as opposed to drift then wake up in a panicked cold sweat because it’s dark and when you closed your eyes — just for a minute! — it was light, and you now have no clue what day it is or where you are or what your name is or if you’re even alive. Actually, you might have died. Or you’re dying. (This is what dying feels like, right? A slow melt into molasses-stretched lethargy, sucked up through a too-small straw by the mouth of drowning quick sand. Squished gum on the bottom of a shoe. Beach-baked squid.) Your eyes can barely hold up their lids let alone the weight of this world and your phone is a stream of shouts and murmurs that you ignored for…three hours and five minutes.
Arguably worse: you tried to nap and failed.
Either way, this is no way to live.
Which is why we come back to the cat — professor of the short sleep; connoisseur of sequential Zs and clocking sheep. If only you’d take a moment to stop complaining about your dander allergy or how the cat just expunged a combination of bile and grass in the far kitchen corner and instead just reflect for the sake of learning…
Step One: Don’t overthink it.
Yes, some studies say that if you have a cup of coffee right before closing your eyes, you awake with the energy of the recently-consumed caffeine. Yes, many studies say that a nap should be twenty minutes long, one minute over and you’re screwed. But cats don’t think about such semantics. They simply see a sunny spot, circle 100 times, stretch, drop and go out like a light.
Step Two: Turn your phone off.
It needs to charge, anyway. Replace your usual blaring call-back to reality with an old fashioned alarm clock.
There. Now you can’t distract yourself with blue lights and boring conversations.
Step Three: Tell no one of your plan.
A stealth nap is so much more luxurious. Prepare your claws for a brief attack if someone comes too close, of course.
Step Four: Time of day is absolutely irrelevant, but that your nap remains in daylight is important.
Avoid closing your eyes (especially if it’s “just for a second!”) if the sun is due to set within the hour or if it’s already dark. Otherwise, mark my words: you will never wake up, ever again. You will miss that party. You will wake up tomorrow like a farmer and confuse your whole sleep schedule. Tough it out and go to bed early instead.
But if it’s 2 p.m. and the sun is out and its rays have already warmed up a little spot for you, by all means, dive in.
Step Five: Avoid your bed.
The important thing about a nap is that it is not a sleep. Just as you’re not supposed to turn your mattress into an office because it ruins bedtime as sanctuary, you should never confuse your body by taking a quick twenty minutes of closed-eye on your bed. The best and most satisfying places for naps are as follows:
Someone else’s bed so long as you stay on top of the covers and take up all of their pillows
Anywhere suspended mid-air (a hammock, a tree bough)
Anywhere on top of or nearby water, although bathtubs are strongly discouraged due to pruning
On a blanket over grass
Step Six: Purr.
If you can’t fall asleep, soothe yourself into slumber by breathing in deeply for ten seconds so that air fills up your belly. Hold it for seven seconds. Exhale slowly so that your belly flattens again. Repeat. Hum if you must. Stroke the inside of your own arm and curl up.
See you in an hour, sunshine.