Posted by: sharemore1 | February 24, 2014

Naps: Not Just for Babies


Ever since I first learned how to climb out of my crib, I’ve thought that naps were for babies.  Until I started spending time in Viet Nam, that is.  The Vietnamese traditionally catch forty winks or more after lunch.  But since home is often a long motorbike ride away, they manage to sleep wherever they are; no dimly lit room or memory foam mattresses required.

Sleeping on the job is accepted just about everywhere.  At the university, students and faculty rest on a table or a couple of chairs pushed together.  In modern office buildings, I’ve seen workers napping in the back stairways.

Sleeping in the Aisle180_1313

The Don Xuan wholesale market in Hanoi starts early, with customers arriving before dawn to buy products they resell during the day.  If you try to shop in the early afternoon, you’ll think you’ve arrived at a preschool during nap time, with the young sales people sleeping peacefully on colorful blankets in the aisles.

Nap on the Bike180_1630

When they feel a snooze coming on, motorbike taxi drivers put down their kickstands, lean back on their seats and scrunch their legs up over the handlebars.  They pull a baseball cap over their eyes and fall asleep, balanced on their two-wheeled vehicles.  If a customer comes along they can be ready to go in moments.

Students Napping180_1687

Once several students came to our house for a party after finishing a final exam in the morning.  Like most undergraduates, they hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before and promptly dozed off on our couch.

Midday rests seem most common in warmer climates as a way to avoid working during the hottest part of the day.  In Spanish-speaking countries, the siesta has traditionally been built into the workday, with shops, restaurants and museums closing midday, so the workers can go home for a long lunch and short nap.

My husband Moshe says that when he grew up in Israel, his father would come home for lunch and a snooze.  At that time all businesses would close at 1:00 and not reopen until 4:00.   Once when he was four and supposed to be playing outside, he remembers interrupting his parents doing more than sleeping during their nap.

Although public sleeping is frowned upon in our culture, would we be better off if we took short naps during the day?  According to the National Sleep Foundation <>, most mammals are polyphasic, which means they take many short naps during the day.  My dog, Toby, is catching some zzz’s as I write.  Humans are monophasic, with two distinct periods of sleep and wakefulness.

Napping by the Road180_5317

The Sleep Foundation says that most Americans don’t get enough sleep at night.  Although it’s not clear whether short naps can compensate for this sleep deficit or confer definitive health benefits, they have been shown to improve mood, alertness and performance.

If you’re planning to nap, the Foundation calls for a room with a comfortable bed, cool temperature and little noise or light.  I wonder what they’d think of someone sleeping outdoors in a hammock or on a motorbike with the traffic whizzing by?

The Foundation also cautions against driving when drowsy.   Its guidelines urge us to pull over to a safe area, imbibe some caffeine and take a short rest.  Here the Vietnamese are way ahead of us.   The long north-south highway that bisects their country has many rest stops just off the road.   You can park your vehicle, get a snack or a drink and take a real nap in one of many brightly colored hammocks strung between poles.  Now that was more like it.  Although I don’t think we could sleep in the middle of a market or on a motorbike, Moshe and I found the hammocks quite satisfactory.

Sharon and Moshe Snooze180_9156

Maybe naps aren’t just for babies after all.


  1. Hi Sharon – I’ve always been a proponent of the nap and passed the habit to my kids. Nice to be validated by the official sleep org. I’ve read the report on this before but your story is much more colorfully told. — Claudine

    >________________________________ > From: Sharemore Adventures >To: >Sent: Monday, February 24, 2014 12:40 PM >Subject: [New post] Naps: Not Just for Babies > > > > >sharemore1 posted: ” Ever since I first learned how to climb out of my crib, I’ve thought that naps were for babies.  Until I started spending time in Viet Nam, that is.  The Vietnamese traditionally catch forty winks or more after lunch.  But since home is often a long m” >

  2. Hi Sharon, Are you now living in Hanoi full time. I had hoped to return to Vietnam last year for a wedding. A young relative who now lives in Ho Chi Minh City married a young Vietnamese woman there. I had planned to attend the wedding but came down with a nasty upper respiratory illness so the trip had to be aborted. I am still hoping to be able to visit them sometime soon.

    Brian is an editor for an English language periodical. His wife works arranging tours for Spanish tour groups. I understand that she is fluent in Spanish.

    On a sad note, I do not know if you heard that Bill Charney died about 15 months ago. A tragic loss for health care worker health and safety but a deep personal loss for me. I regarded him as being my younger brother.

    with warmest regards to you and Moshe, June Fisher

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Hi Sharon –
    I loved this post, and will forward it to Barry who really likes napping in the afternoon. I think that unfortunately young children just don’t appreciate napping as much as they should – and that unfairly deprives young parents from taking advantage of the activity. Remember those days listening in at bedroom doors with fingers crossed, hoping for…silence? Whew, think I’ll go take a rest!

    XX Laura

  4. I love naps. I knew a guy who would pass out cold. Once a coworker called EMS but the guy was just taking power nap


  5. Great blog, Sharon. Seems to me I remember having a wonderful nap in the back of a double kayak once when you were paddling. Oops – maybe I never mentioned that before???

  6. cute. when is our next spa date?

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