The word “sabbatical” comes the Hebrew word “shabbat” which means “to rest”. The word is first found in the biblical book of Genesis when we read in the account of Creation that God set aside a day to rest after six days of doing the hard work of creating all life.
I figured therefore, that I wasn’t justifying my sabbatical if I didn’t pay attention to resting.
I don’t know about you, but sleep has always been a struggle for me, particularly as I get older. I have no problem falling asleep, but staying asleep is another matter. If I can’t sleep at night, I’ve started thinking that maybe I should start to take seriously the concept of daytime napping. I had grown up believing that taking a nap in the middle of the day was something that only young children did. We all remember those days in Kindergarten where napping every day was as much a part of the curriculum as learning our ABC’s. I even remember having a special napping mat in Kindergarten with my name on it.
It was red. I wanted blue. Such is life.
But every day I looked forward to laying on the floor on my red mat while the teacher played soothing music. There was something very right about it. By the time I got to grade one, nap time was over, it was something that babies did, not fully mature six year olds! Since those days in kindergarten, I have never purposefully napped (falling asleep at my desk from time to time, doesn’t count as napping).
Winston Churchill changed all that for me.
After reading his biography, “The Splendid and the Vile” I discovered that Churchill was almost as passionate about napping as he was about defeating Nazi’s. Rarely if ever did an afternoon pass in which Churchill didn’t bed down for an hour or two. If Churchill could nap AND win a war, I figured he may be on to something. And indeed, he was.
A recent Harvard Medical School study showed that napping for even 20 minutes in the middle of the day (so long as it is before 4pm) can improve learning and memory, make us more alert and creative, and boost our moods. And did you know this fact? Often on long flights, pilots will take a 26 minute nap because it has been proven that it can boost their overall alertness by 54%. I don’t mind if my pilot naps, so long as he or she doesn’t say, “goodnight” over the intercom.
Robert Fulghum in his poem, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten” put it this way, “think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about two o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap”. Amen!!
I still find napping challenging to do, because a little voice in my head says, “you’re too old for this and you don’t have time for this”. But then again, why would I not make time for something that is so beneficial? Plus, why should I think I’m any better than Winston Churchill or God? If they can do it, I can do it too.