Is it possible to sleep with your eyes open?


cc licensed flickr photo shared by mike@bensalem

Ladies, when was the last time you gave yourself the day off?

And I don’t mean taking a break between chores to grab a cup of coffee or sitting down for a few minutes while you’re on the phone.

I mean, literally decided you weren’t going to do anything. Not a thing.

The crowd is silent.

I was talking about this with my sister today and surprisingly, she acknowledged that she couldn’t remember the last time she allowed herself to “just be.”

I think it’s wrong and yet, sexist as this sounds, I think this attitude is so typically female.

If we were men, we’d feel entitled to not do squat on our day off.

We’d break out the “brewskys”, grab the remote, and plunk our behinds on the recliner.

Yet females don’t seem to have the same sense of entitlement.

Even worse, some of us don’t know how not to do a damn thing.

I feel this belief stems from the notion that women, like worker bees, don’t deserve a break unless it’s a pee break.

We believe we have to be “on call” 24/7 and any attempt to nap is a seen as a sign of laziness.

I can’t but wonder how many of us have decided to break this rule and sneak a small “I’m resting my eyes” break, which if interrupted by a ringing doorbell, throws us in panic mode and prompts us to quasi remove the top layer of our skin’s epidermis as we rub off bed sheet creases.

How many of us have repeatedly cleared our throats and rehearsed the “I was not taking a nap” voice before answering the phone?

My God, women, when did it come to this and why have we allowed it?

After working all day and perhaps all night, don’t we deserve to catch a few zzz’s?

Without having to ask our husbands, boyfriends, and other live in family members for permission?

Without having to set the alarm clock to wake us in EXACTLY 20 minutes?

Without having to call friends and extended family members to tell them that “No, nothing is wrong. I’m not picking up cause I’m taking a freakin’ cat nap.”

Sadly, I speak from experience.

The last time I took a nap, I had to do the following first:
1) Inform the Son that unless someone was bleeding, dying or both, I was not to be disturbed.
2) Take Roxy out for a walk to prevent accidents.
3) Call the Significant Other to say, “Honey, don’t call me in the next 20 minutes. I’m exercising.”
4) Call friends and family and tell them the same thing.
5) Prepare snacks for the Son in case he gets hungry and can’t find food items that are smack in his face when he opens the fridge.
6) Change my underwear in case I suffer some sort of medical emergency during the 20 minute nap and paramedics have to cut the clothes off my body before starting life saving procedures.
7) Set two timers, an alarm clock and the cell phone alarm function as backup.
8) Set up a “wake up” station consisting of eye drops, mouthwash, and an ice pack.

Needless to say, at this point, I’ve generally lost the desire to nap.

It’s just too much work.

I’m sick of it.

I’m sick of having to justify getting a little shut-eye whenever the spirit moves me.

And so, ladies, methinks it’s time we rebel.

It’s time we turn off the ringer, toss the timers, refuse to incur in snack preparation, and make a run for our beds.

It’s time to be sloths; to do nothing at all.

It’s time to plop on the recliner and listen to the sound of our breathing, playlists from our Ipod, or Antonio Banderas’s voice saying, “Lets play.”

It’s time to stop apologizing, making excuses, or feeling guilt for taking a well deserved break.

It’s time to “go to the mattresses already!”

So today I urge you to beat your chests and holler, “We are women, hear us snore!”

When was the last time you took a nap and did you feel guilty for doing so?

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42 thoughts on “Is it possible to sleep with your eyes open?

  1. You have a point. A big one. I always feel guilty about naps. I’m up all night writing and I do need one. I try to take it when no one is around but I feel guilty for it. And yes, I’ve lied to cover up the fact that I was “doing it.” You’d think I was doing something else! Great post. I should not be made to feel guilty for taking a nap in the daytime, when I only get a freakin’ 3 hours of sleep a night!!! Thanks, I’m going to lie down.

    1. Yay Dawn! You go girl! Get yourself some zzz’s! You’re worth it! And don’t make any excuses either! :)

  2. I am woman, hear me snore! That’s great! Unfortunately, only under very rare circumstances am I able to nap. Usually I just lie there gathering resentments toward everyone who can (smiles).

    1. June, I’m learning to take care of my body and mind and sometimes that means going down for a nap. And happily, I’m not going to justify my actions any more. It is what it is! :)

  3. Having a 21 month old, the only time there is opportunity for a nap is when he takes one. And yet, when he finally decides sleeping is a good idea, all I can think is “are the dishes done? I should be writing. Or scrubbing the toilet. Did I just hear an email come in?”

    My hubs, on the other hand, can be at someone else’s house, lay on the floor, and be snoring within seconds. Completely guilt free. Sigh.

    Thanks for giving us permission to nap. I might just have to do that today.

    (Also, I almost spewed coffee on to the monitor when I got to #6 in your list.)

    1. hee hee, Amber! My apologies for your near coffee spewing experience! :) When my children were small, when they napped, I napped. Forget the who, the what, and the when. And it’s a real shame to give up napping because really, our bodies need sleep. Why can’t more women understand this without feeling like they’ve committed a cardinal sin?

  4. Preach it, Sista!!! I’d sell my soul for an entire day off with the remote control, pre-made snacks, and a disconnected phone. Also, take away my laptop. Add fluffy pillows. And could the Hubs perhaps be working all day? = Deep wistful sigh.

    1. Make it happen, Lori! Life is too short to just dwell on what we wish for instead of making it happen! I bet you that if your hubs had the chance, he wouldn’t think twice about it and not make any excuses in the process. So why shouldn’y you be able to do the same, huh? I’m just saying. :)

  5. It’s sad, isn’t it?! There is nothing quite like a nap (once a year is not enough!) in all its decadence! I read somewhere that the human body NEVER loses its physiological need for an afternoon nap. Given that so many cultures still embrace the siesta or some reasonable alternative, it would also appear that only our North American society forced its demise :(
    Great story, thanks.

    1. Hi and welcome! It’s funny that you mention siesta because having a Spanish mother who was quite the fan of this tradition meant my sisters and I had to partake in one every day until we turned 12. It seems that after that we were left to do as we pleased. I remember coming home from school and being told, “Siesta time!” No if, and or buts. And you know what? We were rarely sick. To this day my mother attributes our good heath in childhood to all the napping we did. Ironically, I’m always sick now. So lets hear it for siesta time! :)

  6. Love this piece Bella. Honestly, I’m always on the lookout for an unexpected gap in my day that might give way to a siesta – on the bus, in line at the bank, talking on the phone (apparently I’m more of a listener, it turns out, and this is optimal for napping), even on a hard, plastic dentist’s chair waiting for a root canal (okay okay, not really). My various trips to Greece, Italy and Central America have turned me slavish in my pursuit of afternoon naps. I feel no guilt whatsoever. The only trick is finding the gap…

    1. Cathy, this is great advice. I too will start looking for the gap! God knows I spend enough time on the phone. Methinks this is a wonderful time to squeeze in a little shut eye. Now how to stop being a talker and more of a listener so I can accomplish this! :)

  7. I just got up from a nap. Seriously. And, yes, I felt guilty. I wonder if a lot of it is because I “work from home” and I would never, ever have considered taking a nap at my office before I had kids. The thought of taking a nap when there is so much left to do at home, (dishes, laundry, packing for this weekend’s camping trip, cleaning out the fridge, walking the dog…) seems lazy and frivolous. But, after some mental flogging, at least a couple times a month, I manage to set my phone alarm and snuggle in on the couch for an hour long nap. But only in a room where I know nobody can see me if they unexpectedly show up…

    1. haha, Kario! Gosh you remind me of me! :) I too have searched for the perfect place to nap without it being detected. But alas, the two men and dog that live with me find me every time! It’s incredible how none of them, dog included, is able to feed themselves, locate missing items or call for take out food. Grief. However, I’m still on the quest to discover that perfect nook where I can blend in like a chameleon and nap away! Oh, and stop feeling guilty! Nap, woman, nap! :)

  8. Bella, Bella, Bella! Are you a crazy woman? Seriously, do nothing? Ah come one Woman, we grrls are not wired that way. I confess that I have to be sick to nap. It’s no something I consider a treat. Doing nothing for me is having Spa Pedicure, sitting on my bed listening to a great play list and a glass of wine at my side. When I declared to the world I was going to be a writer I had to teach myself how to put me ahead of the family. Harder still, was not to obsess if the towels in the dryer didn’t get folded and put away… It was tough. Now, I am happy to say I am the queen of “NO, Not now, go away, I am writing.” I manufacture time in my day for me – hardest thing ever. But like you talking to your son, family, significant other, they are allowed to bother me only if death is imminent or a limb is dangling.

    1. “A limb is dangling…” LMAO over this one! OMG, you’re funny! Rock on, with your bad self, sister! We should all be more like you! I’m working till I reach the point of putting my needs at the front of the line. I’m hopeful I’ll get there soon! :)

  9. When my children were small, I always took a nap when they did. Or if they didn’t nap, the deal was they had to stay in their own rooms and play and while they did, I took a nap. Baad mother?
    I love your dog picture. Such a handsome guy.

    1. Thank you, Thelma! I love that you had children so disciplined that they’d stay in their rooms while you napped. We should all be so lucky! hee hee! For the record, I think that makes you an excellent mother! My nana used to say that a mother was like the trunk of a tree. She was responsible for nurturing the branches and the leaves. But no one nurtured the trunk, that’s why she had to do it for herself! :)

  10. The last time I took an afternoon nap was when I absolutely HAD to because I could hardly hold my head up from sleep deprivation the night before. But that was the exception. Truth is, I don’t generally need naps because I get to sleep later than most “normal” folks. I’m a night owl and not a lark. Larks need naps. Night owls just catch up on sleep in the morning. But I do like my “space” now, and everyone is THIS household understands what “do not disturb” means. Yeah. They do.

    1. You tell ’em, Debra! My sister is a night owl like you and says the same thing. She actually laughs at my desire to nap and tells me if I was a little more like her, I wouldn’t suffer at not being able to get a little shut eye. Maybe I should become a night owl! :)

  11. Bella – I’ve learned from my husband to take a regular nap! Aren’t I the lucky one? It’s really refreshing, especially now that I’m waking up earlier in the morning.
    But it’s so true about us women – we feel guilty when we are good to ourselves….I don’t think it’s the men who make us feel that way – just generations of women. Remember the ‘good wife’ in the Bible? I get tired just listening to all she does!! ;)

    1. Corinne, I mentioned to my mother what you had written and she said that she completely agrees with you! But yes, you are a lucky one that your husband encourages naps! The Significant Other thinks they’re a bad idea because according to him, I wake up “groggy and lethargic.” But what does he know, right? :) And I also agree that the “generations of women” have made us feel this way. The Sisterhood can have both a positive and negative influence! hee hee!

  12. The siesta is built into the Sicilian day. It’s lovely, and you never have to feel guilty. Of course, because of the big mid-day break, everyone has to work to 8pm. But it’s worth it!

    1. Jann, I agree. It’s totally worth it. Whenever I visit Spain, I relish in the time of the day where stores close for siesta time. It’s as if all motion came to a halt so that everyone could recharge their batteries. What a treat! :)

  13. Bella,
    What a fantastic post! I was just talking about the “female guilt” last night with a group of friends. For me it’s not the naps (I’ve never needed much sleep) but to just “be” without feeling like “I should be doing something…anything” I think it’s such a female response. We are wired as busy bees…but guilt over slowing down is an absolute choice. I love the movement. Let me know when you’ve drafted the petition! MMF

    1. Meagan, thank you for your comment! I had to laugh when I read, “when you’ve drafted the petition!” :) I’ve always wondered why women, like you mention, feel like they’re not entitled to just be without feeling like they have to be somewhere, doing something, planning something, and so on. Perhaps we’re programmed this way because men can be, or act, so helpless when it comes to certain things, ie, looking for missing items, shopping, or cooking, to name a few. But of course this does not apply to all men, just to the ones I live with! :)

  14. I think you are spot on my lovely and wise friend. We do tend to assume this role a lot as women, and I certainly this there is an expectation that we eat the burned toast as it were. I am learning to just think sod it, I am not cleaning today, I am going to enjoy, and to really enjoy enjoying, you know? Otherwise I just cause even more stress in my life. Thank you so much for adressing this subject. I love you honey. And I admire you. Mwuah!!!

    1. Anika sweetie, thank you for your lovrly comment! I am so glad that you are assuming a nonchalant attitude when it comes to leaving things as they are and doing them only when you want to. Good for you for keeping stress at bay! :) I love how you take care of yourself!

  15. I am so with you girl! When my four children were little and I was walking comatose, sometimes in the afternoon when they were sleeping I would fall asleep in a chair sitting up. If the phone rang I’d fly to it, become instantly chirpy and act like there was no way I was sleeping in the afternoon, that would make me lazy.
    Now I’m 54 and unable to work due to arthritis. Sometimes I just can’t do anymore, so I take the phone off the hook and go lie down, realizing that the world will continue on fine without me. If people have a problem with this (nobody has) it’s their problem.

    1. Elizabeth, I love it when you say, “If people have a problem with this, it’s their problem.” That’s epic! I think all women should live by this motto. Enough of refusing to partakie in something as necessary as a nap for fear of what people might think. Really, it’s ridiculous! I had to laugh when you wrote “When my four children were little and I was walking comatose…” Boy, does that ring a bell! :)

    1. Anika honey, I do but I haven’t used it in life forever. I was thinking of using it if only to post my blog posts. What do you think? Worth it or not?

  16. I feel guilty when I rest. Last time I rested for a few days (yeah, not just a nap) was during last weekend, because i was so sick I was barely able to look. That’s what it takes for me to get some much needed rest.

    I don’t know why I’m like that. I’m not a sociable person, so there are no phones or doorbells ringing to disturb me. I don’t have kids I’d have to take care for. My SO is wonderful, if he’s hungry and I haven’t prepared anything he’ll get the food himself, and he doesn’t get it why I don’t rest when I need it.

    And yet I feel guilty when I’m just resting. Crazy.

    1. Ivana, we were discussing this subject and came to the conclusion that women are just programmed this way. I agree, it is crazy! We must do something to overcome this false notion! :)

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