I have a confession to make. Even though I’m an adult – a middle-aged one at that – and I’m not currently parenting a breastfeeding baby, I nap. There, I’ve said it. I’m a napper.
Oh, it’s not like I nap every day. If you call me at 2 p.m. and I don’t answer, it doesn’t necessarily mean I’m in snoozville. It’s much more likely that I’m taking a late lunch or I can’t locate the cordless phone.
But the truth is, at least a few times a month, I will lay down after lunch and sleep.
How did this happen? It’s not like I’ve always been a napper. I can even remember in kindergarten (yes, waaaaaaaaay back then) laying on the floor and wishing “nap time” would hurry up and finish so I could get on with things.
So if at the ripe old age of five I was able to make it through the afternoon, why can’t I now?
There’s a couple of things at play. First, it is not at all uncommon for me to be sitting at my computer by 4 a.m. In fact, I prefer days when I get up that early. Think of it: I can have three and a half hours of work done before I even wake my son up for school. By noon, I’ve put in a full day. If I want to take the afternoon off and watch a movie, read a trashy novel, or even take a nap, I can easily do it without feeling guilty.
And if I work until my son gets home at 3:30 I can really get a lot accomplished.
Now it’s not as if I set my alarm for 4 a.m. and force myself out of bed. Far from it. My alarm is usually set for 6. However, very frequently I wake up a 4 a.m. And it’s not one of those groggy, peer at the clock, get up, stumble to the bathroom and then decide whether or not to go back to sleep. Most days when I wake up at 4 I’m wide awake. If I resist and try to stay in bed, sleep won’t come. Over time, I’ve learned when I wake up at 4, I might as well get up.
However, the 4 a.m. mornings are not usually the days I nap. Yes, if I’ve had a late night the night before, I may drop off after lunch. Particularly if I decide to turn on the television and then close my eyes for “just a moment”.
However, the real reason I’m a napper is the 3 a.m. mornings. It doesn’t happen to me often, but occasionally I’ll wake up, bright-eyed and bushy tailed at three.
Those are rough mornings. At 3 a.m. I have a tough decision to make. If I wake up at three I can usually go back to sleep again, but it usually takes me a couple of hours. Then, when my alarm goes off at 6, I’m in trouble. I’ll be right in the middle of a REM cycle. It doesn’t matter how much coffee I drink or how long I stand in the shower, I’m going to be wrecked for the entire day. Nothing truly productive will get done because I will be in a fog all day.
But getting up at 3 a.m. isn’t much better. True, I will get work done before 7:30 – a lot of work in fact – but by noon I’m a waste case. I’m exhausted, can’t think, can barely keep my eyes open. And if I have any plans for the evening, I’d better cancel because I can’t make it past 7 p.m.
At least, until I rediscovered naps. Now on those rare occasions when my eyes pop open at three and I know I’m not falling back asleep I can get out of bed without fear. I’ll work until late morning, have an early lunch then, when most people are just figuring out where to go for lunch, I’m back in bed for a couple of extra hours of sleep. Then, when I get up I’m a functioning human being again. I can teach a workshop, host a teleseminar or even have a night out with the girls, even if the event runs later than 7 p.m. All because of the little nap.
So, there’s my dirty little secret. Not terribly corporate I know. But like they say, when you work for yourself, you’re free to work any 80 hours of the week you choose. Some days I just don’t choose to work between noon and 2 p.m.
Andrea J. Stenberg
What’s your dirty little secret for getting through the day or the week? What perks do you give yourself to make up for the sometimes long hours that are involved with being an entrepreneur? Please leave a comment and share your story.