I just woke up from one of the best naps I've had in a long time. It was just about to storm when I settled down for my nap and when I woke up, it had finished storming. I'm not upset about missing the storm because I left my window open and when I woke up there was a lovely lot of water spray on my face. Kind of like astringent except nicer smelling without the sting. I like to think the storm influenced my sleep because I had a dream where it was raining and I was naked at a school reunion but no one seemed to notice because my mother was singing a song about Dogras really loudly and no one knew what a Dogra was.
As usual, I digress. I don't want to write about storms today. I want to write about sleep because sleep is a very wonderful, often unappreciated activity.
The benefits of sleep are numerous. Good skin, good hair, probably longevity of life (fact: people who sleep less than seven hours a day do not have as long a life span as people who sleep seven or more hours a day. I average about eleven to twelve hours a day, so I'm probably going to outlive all of you). There are also many forms of sleep.
This occurs after a long period of sleeplessness. Reasons for sleeplessness could be exams, other forms of work, parties, unreasonable parents and room-mates, hyperactiveness and insanity.
The last two reasons are especially intriguing. My friend Tanvi has, since she was a little girl, refused to succumb to sleep which she has always regarded a mortal enemy. At sleepovers, I would be asleep by eleven thirty while she insisted on watching cricket till 4, sleeping till 5, talking to her boyfriend (who was obviously equally insane) till 7 and then rushing off to do some sort of volunteer work with the Nature Club. She'd be back by ten at which point I'd wake up and we'd have breakfast together. But it does sometimes catch up with her; occasionally she will lower her defences and sleep for a good eleven hours. Occasionally. This is because she is insane. My roommate, Meghana, is a hyperactive person. She will jump around and make strange sounds till the early hours of the morning and suddenly, fall flat where she is and sleep for the next twelve hours. And then she'll wake up and the jumping and loud noises will continue... I adore Meghana, I really do, but I love her best when she's in a state of hibernation. Although she does sometimes make strange noises even then.
Other creatures, like bears and squirrels and snakes, hibernate too. If nature supports this, then it can be nothing except beneficial.
The best part. You have power naps, which give you energy. I like taking power naps during exams. I set the alarm for half an hour later, then reset it and reset it once again. A good hour and a half of sleep and I am energised (and, until the last alarm goes off, smug because I know that I have extra time to sleep). This is why I usually get good grades. I study for an hour and sleep for two. My brain is constantly rejuvenated. My power nap gives me a powerful brain. Technically a power nap is supposed to be only fifteen minutes long, but only insane or hyperactive people can achieve that.
Naps can be taken at all hours of the day. My favourite time to nap is in the morning, between breakfast and lunch. I also like napping in the afternoon. And in the evening. It prevents boredom, especially if you have a creative brain which makes for interesting dreams.
Napping also helps me lose weight. This is because I tend to eat when I'm bored. If I go to sleep instead, my problem is usually solved and I fit into my jeans again within a week.
They're versatile, naps are. You can nap in bed, on the sofa, in a cosy armchair, in class and in the backseat of a car. I'm told it's not advisable to nap if you're in the driver's seat. This happened to my uncle one night (by accident) and he rammed his car into a pole. He was okay, the car was not.
Like naps. In my opinion however, they have a couple of characteristics that distinguish them from naps: Naps can be taken anywhere, anytime. Siestas can only be taken after lunch. And they only count if you live in a relatively hot country like India, Mexico or Spain. You cannot take a siesta if you live in London; you must settle for naps.
If you are a human being, this usually occurs at night. The average human being sleeps seven to nine hours a night. As discussed before, sleep has numerous benefits so as wonderful as naps are, there is nothing that really beats this form of sleep. A very wise person once said that there's no substitute for either work or sleep. I agree although I strongly believe that when work gets too daunting, the best cure is more sleep.
Permanent, dreamless sleep. Must be quite boring because of the lack of dreams so I believe we must sleep as much as possible while we're alive. This is also- as mentioned earlier- believed to postpone death. A win-win situation.
There are many ways to ensure a good session of sleep. Minimum amounts of light and minimum amounts of noise are a must (although sometimes it does help to have soft music playing in the background). It's easier to sleep on clean sheets than dirty ones and to sink into a soft bed after a nice warm bath is one form of paradise on earth. Lots of pillows- I never sleep without less than two. Sometimes three. Sleeping with four pillows is just plain greedy. I generally don't like sleeping with stuffed toys or dolls- never did although I tried when I was younger because everyone used to- because then you end up sleeping on them and you spend the entire night with something sharp poking into your back (this can also be applied to other things when you're older).
There are few things more wonderful than waking up in the morning to darkness, silence, absolute stillness and cold pillows (if it's summer) or a warm duvet (if it's winter) and realising you can go back to sleep for as long as you want which, after a small and satisfied grunt, you usually do.
Sleep: it's a necessity, it's comfort and it's luxury. It's also free.