I am constantly overloaded, backlogged, catching up. When I can, mid-day, I opt for a short rest; 6 minutes at least, 20 minutes typically, and as much as an hour if I must. I don’t really sleep, not as in deep REM sleep. I just rest; feel the body go limb, observe my mind’s conversion from logical thinking to a blurb of thoughts, as is often the case when I am very tired at night, just before I doze off to zzz-land.
Reading recently an excellent book about sleep: “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep” by David Randall, the author mentions how research proved time and again how essential sleep is for our optimal functioning. Fatigue does not only cause accidents, it constrains the mind to thinking in familiar patterns, blocking creativity.
Thus, when I take my nap, often, just prior to closing my eyes, I pose my mind a question. It can be some challenge from work, a problem I faced during my creative writing, or a difficult situation from my everyday life; something I had no ready solution for. I do not meddle with it – just present it as a riddle and let go; then I drift into sub-consciousness. Time and again, when I get up, either instantly or within a short time after, a solution presents itself to me. All that the mind really needed was a chance to catch up. When I close my eyes, plug my ears shut, rest my body, no new input comes in, and processing of queued information can proceed without distraction.
It is a shame we came to view sleep in our modern Western world as a waste of time, as nuisance, laziness. I remember growing up in Israel, the days a siesta was commonplace as it still is in some more laid back countries in the world. I recall how shops used to close their doors between 2 and 4pm, and people went home to rest, before opening again for the afternoon and evening hours. Everything was more relaxed. I can only hope that in the cyclical tradition of Yin and Yang, after we are done taking the exhaustion of time to the extreme in one negative direction, that wisdom will finally settle in. That an afternoon break will be recognized not only as a good idea, but as critical. That our kids, going through Middle and High-School, will be allowed to sleep late and study less (as research already demonstrated that this way they actually absorb more.) And that, on occasion, we take our eyes off the information superhighway, and enjoy a relaxed stroll along a quiet country road.
Learned from: an afternoon nap.