Learning to nap in China

By Alok Joshi Source:Global Times Published: 2016/12/1 15:33:39

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Of the many things China has taught me, one of the most useful and interesting is how to nap.

Before coming to China, I always thought napping in the office or during work hours was an unofficial crime, liable for punishment.

In many countries, employees found napping could lose their jobs. This is not so in China. If I go back several years to my first day at work in Beijing, I am instantly reminded of being escorted by the HR manager to meet the top management of the mammoth State-owned company.

What amused me most was that every vice president's office had an anteroom.

While the boss was in the rest room, I peeped into the anteroom out of sheer curiosity, and I found a proper, cozy bedroom for him to enjoy his afternoon siesta. It looked like a hotel luxury room with a comfortable bed, quilt and huge pillows.

In those days, I would ask my colleagues to join me for a post-lunch walk outside the office building but everyone preferred to enjoy their nap.

When I moved to another State-owned company, I was in for a bigger surprise. My colleagues even had cots to take their heavenly naps.

The whole office appeared like a graveyard in the afternoon, and I was the only one walking around to find someone awake to talk to.

Unbelievably, I could hear snores breaking out of closed doors in the office corridor.

It was not long before I remembered, "Do in Rome as the Romans do."

Luckily, I had an office room to myself. Like others, I would close the door and start to enjoy my nap. I knew that during that hour, nobody would disturb me at work, not even my boss.

Ever since then, I have been taking afternoon naps in my office. I feel refreshed after a small nap, given that I usually do not sleep well through the night. After this experience, I am surprised as to why naps have gotten such a bad reputation and often considered a sign of laziness or weakness.

Lately, napping has earned respect based on solid scientific evidence that midday dozing is beneficial to mental sharpness and general health.

Most mammals sleep for short periods throughout the day. We have consolidated sleep into one long period, but biologically we need two.

Our bodies are programmed for two periods of intense sleep; early mornings from 2 am to 4 am and afternoons from 1 pm to 3 pm.

Midday drowsiness is not due to heat or too many noodles at lunch. Our bodies go into a quiet mode in the afternoons.

Chinese people in general are early risers. Therefore, it is not surprising that they feel a bit sleepy in the afternoon.

A short 20-minute catnap is ideal, and you will wake up more alert and focused. It will also give your eyes the much-needed rest from all the digital anxiety.

I read somewhere that companies like Google even have napping machines installed in offices and encourages employees to lie down and enjoy their naps. They believe that napping improves employees' productivity.

You should try out napping if you are not already into it. I have formed a new habit, and I don't regret it at all.

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.


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