Cat Naps:

Seek out the sunshine and bask in it. Stretch your back and limbs daily. Yawn deeply to get your blood flowing. Find pleasure in simple things, gaze out the window, be curious, be yourself, and be playful. Observe closely, relax, and live in the moment. These are just some life lessons that we can learn from our cats. A good “cat-nap” is by far the best lesson. A nap rejuvenates the body, mind, and soul so that you are recharged for the rest of the day. Cats have this habit perfected, and what a better time to think of all its benefits with tomorrow being “National Nap Day.”

People lost an hour of sleep from the change to daylight savings time today. National Nap Day began in 1999 to call attention to the importance of getting enough sleep. Without adequate sleep, our long-term health suffers in many areas. Side effects can include impaired judgment, poor performance, anxiety, and crankiness. Unfortunately for Americans, only the elderly and very young are given the time and a cozy place to take a nap, unlike many other cultures around the world where an afternoon “siesta” is the norm.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each day. Without it, or when sleep deprived, areas of our physical health are affected. Our immune system is weakened, making us more susceptible to illness. Our brain, nervous, and cardiovascular systems are impeded as well as our metabolism. Who wants to gain weight because of too little sleep? We have less energy, slower reaction times, and are less coordinated and agile. The Foundation also reports that there is a negative impact on our mental health. In addition to possible moodiness, it can be more of a challenge to concentrate and retain information. Stress levels can rise and can even affect social interactions.

So what do our cats do? They seem to know that naptime is good and take “cat-naps.” We sometimes call them “power-naps.” Even with enough sleep at night, a midday rest is refreshing. A Sunday nap is the best, especially when we can’t fit one in during the week. Maybe that’s another reason the day is called the “day of rest.” We can even rejuvenate ourselves spiritually and let our minds drift off to calmer places.

Although not common, some work places have a space for naps. A bank in Florida has an “energy-pod” where drowsy employees can rest for 20 minutes in a chair that has lights, vibrations, and music to gently awake the napper and put him or her back into an upright position. Detailed at nj.com, the chair, designed by MetroNaps of NY, is said to offer the employees a place to at least meditate and rest and then be more fully able to face whatever the day holds.

A great book called “Simple Abundance” with daily reflections for every day of the year speaks of naps.

Indeed, the author says that, “If you want to be happy for the rest of your life, napping is not optional.”

Of all the hours in a day, one of them spent napping is time well spent, especially when under a cozy comforter. The reflection for the day articulates how a nap should not be confused with sleeping. A nap is more “for the soul,” to rest our eyes and drift off just far enough to let our imaginations play and to sort things out; to “ransom our creativity from chaos.” Or, as said by another, “Those who sleep are workers and share in the activities of the universe.”

Where is a good place to nap? A cat has no problem finding a nook to slumber. The author of Simple Abundance says a “proper” place to nap can be our bedrooms, a living room couch, a hammock, a chaise lounge, under an umbrella on a beach, or in a wingback chair in front of a fire. An hour is good and if we have small children, we nap when they nap.

Getting back to Sunday, it is suggested that this is the day to start or continue the napping tradition. “After the potatoes are peeled and the roast is in the oven, you disappear up the stairs or down the hall. Tell anyone who might be interested in your whereabouts that you need to sort something out. Alone. If you must look like you’re going to be productive, carry the newspapers with you as if you’re going to read. What they don’t know can only help you. Now crawl under the covers. Good. You’ve done it.”

Make it a good week by getting enough sleep and take a cat-nap whenever possible. As quoted in the Abundance book, “No day is so bad it can’t be fixed with a nap.” Likewise, “No day is so good that it can’t be made better with a terrific time out.” Cats inherently know this.

Mary Burns Deas writes weekly for the OBSERVER. Direct comments to lifestyles@observertoday.com