Power Naps

The President Of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, has come under fire recently for his behavior during the Association for South East Asian Nations summit.  Duterte is a controversial figure for a lot of reasons, but the latest kerfuffle arises from his decision to skip some of the ASEAN meetings and take a “power nap” instead.

When he was questioned about it, the 73-year-old Duterte responded:  “What’s wrong with my nap?”

That’s an entirely valid question in my book. ASEAN meetings probably aren’t the most thrilling events, and not every meeting with a group of world leaders is a life and death occasion.  Is it really so bad if a world leader plops on a couch and dozes off now and then? I don’t know if President Trump enjoys a refreshing afternoon siesta, but if he doesn’t I think it couldn’t hurt if he adopted that practice.  He’d probably feel better about catching up on some shut-eye, and we might even avoid a few of those ill-advised tweets as a result.

Many of us of a certain age brought towels to our full-day kindergarten and, when the teacher told us to roll them out on the floor after lunch, we stretched out and took a short nap on command.  I don’t know about you, but I really liked kindergarten, and I think the afternoon nap probably had something to do with it.  Unfortunately, we don’t continue with the nap as part of the school routine post-kindergarten, and we certainly don’t build it into the average American workday — as opposed to Latin countries, where the siesta is a key part of the culture, is perfectly timed to coincide with the lull in human biorhythms, and allows for recharge and replenishment.

So President Duterte missed a few meetings?  So what?  ASEAN will soldier along somehow, despite his brief absence, and as long as he didn’t oversleep to the point of grogginess I bet he felt a lot better — and was a lot easier to deal with — after he woke up, stretched, appreciated his chance to rest, and moved forward with his day.

I repeat:  What’s wrong with a nap?

Everything I Need To Know About Avoiding Swine Flu I Learned In Kindergarten

Yesterday the HR people at the firm circulated a publication from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that gave people tips on h0w to avoid getting H1N1, the latest strain of “swine flu.” The CDC webpage reflecting the advice is found here.

I was struck by how elementary the CDC advice was. Indeed, it was pre-elementary, because most of it was taught to us by our kindergarten teachers. What are the recommended “everyday actions to stay healthy”? First, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and after you use a tissue throw it out. Second, wash your hands often with soap and water. Finally, you should stay home if you are sick (preferably, of course, tucked into a warm and cozy bed, lathered with Vicks Vap-O-Rub, drinking a 7-Up brought to you by your Mom and reading Richie Rich or Archie comics before you doze off in a thick haze of menthol vapor).

Who can’t picture their kindergarten teacher sternly giving these instructions? “Robert, please cover your mouth when you cough!” “Robert, your hands are filthy — go back and wash them thoroughly this instant!” If I survive the H1N1 epidemic, I will have to find Mrs. Radick, my kindergarten teacher at Rankin Elementary School in Akron, Ohio, and thank her personally.

Nap Time

One day last week at about 2:30 or 3 p.m., I seemed to hit the wall. I began to yawn and my eyes grew heavy. So, to combat the fatigue, I went out to the coffee station, poured some cold coffee into my cup, zapped it to fiery heat in the microwave oven, and slugged down some liquid caffeine. After guzzling a bit of the coffee, the combination of the hot beverage and the caffeine hit me, and I was off and running again.

Still, I thought: Wouldn’t it be nicer to take a nap, like in kindergarten? At Rankin Elementary School in Akron, Ohio, every kindergartener brought a towel to school, and after an hour or so of coloring, Play-Doh eating, playing with Lincoln Logs or building blocks, and whatever else we were supposed to be doing in kindergarten, Mrs. Radick would tell us to take our our towels, find a place on the floor to roll them out, and then lie down and take a nap.

At first, of course, it was impossible to sleep. You’d lie there, feeling a bit silly, looking at the other kids in the class, and maybe making funny faces. Mrs. Radick would walk among us, shushing us gently, and eventually you would close your eyes and magically fall asleep, even though it was the middle of the day and you were in the middle of a bunch of kids. After a while — how long were those naps, anyway? — the teacher would wake us up and we would be ready once more to tackle the punishing kindergarten curriculum, clear-headed and refreshed.

Several years I attended a CLE session that included a presentation on minimizing stress at work, and the speaker urged everyone to schedule, and take, a 15 to 30-minute “power nap” every day. The lawyers in attendance chuckled at such an outlandish notion — imagine, lawyers napping at work! — but deep down I felt the distant pull of the kindergarten towel.