I am no longer going to hide the truth. I am a Cranky Napper. No, naps do not make me cranky. A good nap will leave me refreshed and ready to face the rest of my day with renewed energy. But what actually constitutes a nap? The time frames vary widely from person to person.
After my childhood days, I completely gave up naps. Yes, cold turkey, as they say. Luckily for me, time has erased my memories of this experience, so I have no idea of whether it involved any trauma. I suspect that, like most kids, I was eager to dispense with napping, because you never know what you might miss out on while you are sleeping. So instead of the adults sending you away for a nap while they talked about important things, things you might not understand or even truly care about but really wanted to overhear, they sent you to your room to play. Or even worse, outdoors. When they sent you outside to play, your chances of eavesdropping were instantly crushed. It's the classic adult gossip-protection blocking maneuver.
For years, I never thought about taking a nap. In my thirties, my less than stellar health made me tire more easily than I had before. When I was really exhausted, I had to cave in and lie down during the day. I had heard so many people talk about taking fifteen-minute "power naps," little parcels of sleep after which they felt rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world. Uh-huh. Not so much with me. Once, just once, I dozed off for about fifteen minutes during a flight to Florida, and woke up feeling like a million dollars. Okay, well, maybe fifty. Maybe I have a problem because I am so unwilling to miss out on anything that I will not surrender to a nap unless I am completely exhausted. Maybe it's just that the nap-wiring in my brain is not assembled properly. I don't know. But I do know this, and I say once again, I am a Cranky Napper.
I discovered this unexpectedly during one of my first adult napping experiences. I had been asleep for less than twenty minutes when the phone rang. It was my sister Liz, just wanting to shoot the breeze. I was disoriented and exhausted. And cranky. After a minute or two, Liz asked what was going on, and I told her that I had been asleep when the phone rang. She chuckled and told me to go back to sleep, which I did. I woke up about an hour and a half later, feeling good, and with enough energy to get through the rest of the day. A few weeks later, I had another exhausting day and decided to get some sleep. And again, as if a remote alarm was installed in my pillow, the phone rang. Poor Liz. Within about a minute, she asked if I had been asleep, and the call was soon over.
Although I often claim to be the meanest person in the world, it's not in my nature to be randomly cranky when I wake up. The best I can figure out is that since I can only nap when I am truly exhausted, I need to sleep for an hour and a half to two hours. If I am awakened by outside forces before my brain is rested, I get a terrible case of sleep-deprivation-induced grouchiness. And it doesn't happen if I am jolted awake in the middle of the night. Perhaps that is because my "it might be an emergency" override kicks in. And maybe part of it is that I wasn't nearly as exhausted when I went to bed, and therefore less prone to the effects of sleep deprivation.
I am completely sincere when I tell friends to call me any time of the day or night. I can be alert fairly quickly for emergencies. But I usually don't answer my phone if it rings during a nap. I don't want to be cranky. It makes me feel bad. And if it is an emergency, whoever is calling will let me know. They'll either call back or call Trent, who is usually napping right along with me. So don't get too worried. Unless there's one living in your home, you probably aren't in much danger from The Cranky Napper.