Sleep is one of my super powers. One that my wife hates me for. I can fall asleep literally anywhere or anytime. So it also becomes my kryptonite. I’ve fallen asleep while reading a book to my daughter, during a conversation, and once while driving (luckily the other car was parked and empty).
Now, a bit older, I’ve learned to harness the power of the nap. Sometimes even ten minutes is enough to recharge my brain and get me alert again. But napping can do so much more.
In some respects, your brain functions akin to the operating system of a computer. Garbage builds up over time and clogs your processing ability. It’s not a mistake that the first thing a tech person will tell you to do is to restart your computer. So how do you restart your brain?
Scientists have long known about the recuperative properties of naps. Cerebrospinal fluid kicks up when you snooze and this flushes away the nasty proteins and toxins from your brian cells. Hence, a reboot.
Salvador Dalí mastered the power of the nap as a way to jumpstart his creativity. For the surreal images he cherished, Dalí needed to enter a hypnagogic state. To accomplish this, he would set a tin plate on the floor and sit beside it, holding a spoon. He would then relax his body. The moment he dozed off, the spoon would slip from his grasp and clatter on the plate, waking him. He would use this dreamlike state in his work.
The trick is to find your Goldilocks zone. Too short of a nap and you won’t clear your head. Too long and you’ll end up groggy (something that happens to me often).
I subscribe to the Austin Kleon approach with a caffeinated nap. Drink some coffee (or your caffeine drug of choice) and then relax for a nap. The stimulant takes about fifteen minutes to take effect (a perfect napping time). Then when you wake, you will be ready for action.
So flush those nasties out of your brain and get creating. Spoon optional.