Somebody Needs a Nap by Cheryl Hughes
Every day, around 2 pm, I feel exhausted. It makes no difference what I’m doing or where I am, at 2 pm, I just want to sit or preferably lie down. When I’m at work, I can’t lie down, and sometimes we’re so busy I can’t even sit down, but when I can, I take a coffee and pastry break.
The timing of my coffee and pastry break corresponds to afternoon tea (also called low tea) in England. I attribute my daily ritual, which I’ve practiced for decades, to my British heritage. According to one of those DNA test sites, I am 71% British. Afternoon tea is in my genetic makeup, and everyone knows how difficult it is to change something that is programmed into your DNA. I feel the need to defend this break, because I don’t live in England; I live in the United States of America—land of employees who often work straight through their lunch breaks. God forbid, they should get an afternoon tea. (For those of you who love isolated facts, high tea corresponds to our supper, and is looked down upon by the upper class, because that’s what the working class calls it.)
Besides England, there are people in other countries who take afternoon breaks. Spain and Mexico have the siesta and Italy has the riposo. According to sleep.org, these breaks traditionally happen during the hottest part of each day, and often last as long as two hours. Workers go home to share a big meal with family and friends then sleep it off with a nap. In Greece, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Nigeria, “Naps are seamlessly woven into the tapestry of everyday life.” On the down side, workers in those countries often work later into the evenings than their American counterparts.
If you happen to visit a European country that takes an afternoon break, it can be very frustrating. I remember when visiting Italy, there was a particular museum I wanted to see, but it was closed during riposo. I was with a group on a set schedule, and I was unable to come back when it was open again.
While reading about naps on the sleep.org site, I stumbled upon an unexpected factoid about Chinese office workers. Evidently, after lunch, they put their heads on their desks and take an hour-long nap. Now, wait a minute. Aren’t these the people who are under communist rule? The same people we’ve viewed as oppressed and overworked all these years? Yes, it is these people. They get an hour-long nap after lunch each working day, because it is considered their constitutional right.
We need an amendment. Write your congressman.
Some of the cutting edge tech companies are discovering the advantages of giving their employees rest time during work. Google has become a nap-friendly place, because they believe a nap refreshes employees, as well as increases their productivity.
As much as I believe an afternoon nap should be a basic human right, I can rarely sleep if I lie down in the afternoon on a non-work day. The list of what I should be up and doing chases my brain around in my head, so I usually just give it over and get up and at it. I guess that’s the 29% of me that’s American—land of the free and home of the brave get-it-done-ers.