I used to be a super active baby. Apparently, during babyhood, I used to be up at 5.30am sharp every day and effectively ruin my mom's morning sleep too. In kindergarden, we kiddies used to have a noon nap-time forced upon us. While most of the kids went off into slumberland without protest, yours truly used to poke her head up every so frequently to check if the sign to get up had been give yet. Since the time I stopped being a baby and hence lost the privilege of napping at any time, there have been quite a few days I have rued wasting my free childhood sleep-time.
Anyways, all through childhood, I preferred being up and about to sleeping. Noon-time siestas are extremely common in both my immediate and extended family. All noon-time meals used to conclude with the adults settling down for a short nap. I remained umoved as to its charms though.
The first time I found the joys of napping at noon was when I joined a school which got over at 1.30p sharp instead of the usual 4.30p schedule. By that time, I was way past junior school and no longer very keen on running out to play in the hot afternoon sun. And 1.30p seemed to early to even contemplate doing anything worthwhile. Without any other choice, I took to noon-time naps. And boy, did I like them!
So much so that, other than the brief period when I was in another school which went on till 4.30p everyday, naps became a much-loved part of my life. Once I got to undergrad college, I still tried to sneak in a nap with varying levels of success. Then it was on to grad school. Here, apart from deadline times, the schedule was much more flexible and accomodating to noon-time naps. But this was the first time people looked askance at this (what seemed to me a very natural) habit of mine. "You sleep in the afternoons", they went. "But why?"
Oh hmm. Then, I read an article about how sleeping after lunch greatly increases your chances of developing a nice pot belly. As if my belly needed any kind of extra attention to develop pot like features :-(. So I decided to wean myself away from the habit. It was difficult at first. But a judicious mix of piling onto friends' places, going shopping, going to the library and other such activities soon cured me.
And that was that. From that time onwards, I hardly ever sleep in the afternoons even if I am at home. If the sleep Gods start tempting me, I get myself out of the house pronto. It usually works well. Other than days like today. The past week had been hectic at work. Combined with other stuff, I was not quite getting my eight hours of beauty sleep every night. With the result of an exhausted me. So I decided to force myself to sleep in the afternoon to make up for the deficit.
Which was all a hunky-dory plan. But then, so many years of no-sleep training is hard to get over. But at some point, I did fall asleep. Then I woke up and was very surprised to see my aunt. What's more, she was accompanied by an undergrad friend of mine. My aunt pulled out a big picture of me with my 10th grade classmates. I proceeded to point out a girl in the picture (who, I later realized, never studied with me in 10th grade) to my undergrad friend as the girl studied in the same grad school as the undergrad friend.
At this point, my cell phone started to ring loudly and I gave a huge jump. Okay, where did I put that darned thing? I did not even remember having my cell phone when my aunt woke me up. Then I realized that the phone was ringing somewhere close to my ear. Hmm, I was sitting on a chair - did the cell phone somehow get suspended in mid-air to be ringing so close to my ear?
Which was when I realized, I was still lying flat on my bed. Uh? Did my aunt not just wake me up? As my mind whirled, it came back to me. I had "woken up" from my sleep in my dream only and was actually still sleeping when the cell phone rang in reality. Aunt and friend, who both currently live in India, had come in my dream. By this time, my heart rate had increased to some wondrous level and as I took deep breaths to calm myself down, the phone went off to voice mail. I groggily looked at the clock - it was about an hour and a half since i had started trying to fall asleep. Phew! What an *exciting* way to wake up!
I *knew* there were reasons besides not getting a pot belly to avoid noon-time naps!