Guest Post by RenMan: What is Up with Guys and Napping?

Okay, I figure that there are two types of people in the world – those that nap, and those that actually abstain from a good nap’s restful benefits and want to look older, carry more stress, recuperate more slowly, and generally be grumpy fuckers.

This theory, however, does not carry over to those perpetually cheery folk who wake early, get tons of shit done EVERY day, work well into the wee hours at night and never have ‘personal disagreements’ with others.  It might just be me, but I think these people are probably meth addicts with a knack for chemistry and a really nasty ring around the inside of their bathtub.

…Or maybe, they are just robots.

But the question asked is about a man (presumably your partner) and his napping tendencies. Does he seem to fall asleep around you all the time? And is it usually when you are discussing the banalities of life and your hopes for the future? Or is it just directly after sex? If it is directly after sex, you should be proud since you’ve worn him out and that is a totally natural after-effect.  (You have earned a cookie!)  If it is during your conveyance of your wonderment at life, the universe, and that Honey Boo Boo child… well, um, it’s the same thing.  Just in a different way.

Not likely one to be as proud of.

(No cookies there, either.  Sorry.)

Now, some people (mostly girlfriends of mine) have insinuated that men are far more likely to nap than they are, and I dispute this. I truly believe that when people are requiring rest and they have fulfilled their requirements for safety and health, women and men will equally indulge in an afternoon’s reverie. Before you call bullshit, though, you have to consider that most men do not consider dust to be life-threatening, are aware that the grass will continue to grow whether or not you cut it today or tomorrow, and that cleaning out the garage, while necessary, is not going to vastly improve your quality of life (unless you live in your parents to save on rent in these uncertain economic conditions).

The long and short of it is that men and women can prioritize differently, and sometimes – for men – having a good crack at the old pillow ranks higher on the ‘to-do’ list than scrubbing the grout in the bathroom. I call this the ‘recuperative survival relevancy’ theorem. Sleep is more relevant to my survival than housecleaning – therefore I will pursue that venture first!

(Remember way back when I wrote that I was full of shit?  Prime example, here.)

Back to our discussion, though – as a point of consolation, if your partner is nodding and acknowledging your comments in an appropriate fashion before he passes out then at least you can say he’s making an effort, albeit a disappointing one. No one really appreciates that attempt, though, when you are doing the old bobble-head during their grand postulations on the Real Housewives of Vancouver. It’s truly a pity, isn’t it?  Such fine programming.

(Narcoleptics should really get a pass on this (and the Real Housewives of Vancouver), but unless you’ve made them very happy or really stressed out, they are definitely not weaselling their way out of responsibility on this. I know their inappropriately-timed-napping game!)

Personally, I love a good snooze – indeed, I relish the opportunity to engage in my old hobby of extreme sport-napping but I don’t seem to get a chance to participate on as frequent a basis anymore. Now, there seems like there is too much to do, and as I have gotten older, it has become evident that I don’t absolutely require them like I did when I was younger. Indeed, we humans – like the elder chimps in family groups of wild apes – seem to wake more frequently during the night and sleep for shorter periods of time as we age.  Jane Goodall herself has postulated that the older chimps do this to allow their young to grow better and faster by having longer, more restful sleeping patterns. They have developed a seemingly biological imperative to stand watch at night and sleep more shallowly – all to assist in coming to a state of wakefulness with immediacy. Ultimately, we can believe that it is all in the hopes of providing safety and comfort for others of their group.

(Parents of young children – notice any coincidence there?)

But what does this have to do with your partner ‘resting his eyes’ when you are around?  Well, you can probably rule out you being the problem. Our lives aren’t all that dissimilar to our ancestors in the Neolithic Era; it’s just that our stressors have changed significantly.  Remember, chances are he is in a form of heightened state all day, dealing with the pressures of work and life, chin held high and braced to tackle anything that comes his way. Likely fuelled by caffeine and adrenaline, he doesn’t finally relax until he’s somewhere, or with someone, that he feels is safe.

That person is most likely you. That place may be at your side.

What you need to do is to try and forgive him for relaxing and letting the weight of the world finally bear down – he’s just tired. Give him a break because it is most likely that… or he is totally bored shitless.

Then it might be time to change the fucking topic.

It’s just an idea.

9 thoughts on “Guest Post by RenMan: What is Up with Guys and Napping?

  1. Great post! This explains so much about my husband’s habits. I hadn’t realized it was a guy thing until reading this. I try to nap but often suffer from what I’ll call “nap hangover”…feeling thirsty, irritable, and somewhat spacey for the rest of the day.

    On a related not, did you happen to read the NY Times article on why 8 hours of sleep is overrated?

    • No, I hadn’t but thanks for pointing it out!

      I hadn’t really considered napping to be a ‘guy thing’ until it was referenced as a question by FFG. My experience has always been that my girlfriends usually snoozed just as much as, if not more, than I did. Some of them would even curse me, wondering why I had ‘so much energy’ while they passed out in front of the television at 9pm every night.

      I guess everybody, woman or man, reacts differently, and I think that our nutrition and inborn genetic modifiers affect our sleep patterns more than we know.

      As for your ‘sleep hangover’, been there. For me, it was that I hadn’t hydrated enough during the day. Now, I usually carry a bottle of water with me everywhere I go…

  2. Great post – thanks for addressing that question. But I really don’t consider napping practices to be gendered. I nap everyday for 20-30 minutes. Sometimes it’s on the bus, sometimes on my yoga mat on my office floor, sometimes in bed. My partner (male) naps very rarely, perhaps once every couple of weeks. Like you mention, I think it really depends on priorities and productivity levels. I nap so I can work until 11pm, go to bed, and be back up at 530am. During my 20 minutes, I tend to be out cold, twitching, dreaming, and drooling. I also think that 8 hours of sleep is overrated, as I’m often up before my alarm goes off after 6 hours of sleep. It’s more a matter of getting to know your body than saying men nap more than women or vice versa.

  3. Considering the gendered nature of napping would not amount to deciding whether or not men nap more than women or vice versa. Drawing on understandings of gender that are not equated with sex designation might, however, be useful in illuminating varying sleeping experiences and opportunities as well as beliefs in the ‘right to nap.’ These issues would also vary according to such other factors as class or ‘stage of life,’ which, like gender, are social constructions that shape individual experiences but do not determine them.

  4. My husband has a tendency to doze off of an afternoon, and has had this tendency for the 25 years or so that I’ve known him. It never occurred to me before that this might be “an issue”, but after reading this post, I’m not so sure.

    I’m with FFG here (I think). What you seem to be saying is that men believe that they have, as FFG puts it, a right to nap, a right to prioritize rest over things like household chores and listening to women talk about “banalities”. While men might not need to nap more than women, there is a reason why we tend to observe more men who are habitual nappers, for example, at holiday family gatherings. Certainly in the case of post-prandial napping on holidays it’s more a matter of opportunity. If the men did the washing up while the women retired to the living room to watch television, I think you’d see at least one or two women snoozing on the sofa by the time the dishwasher was loaded.

    • Thanks for the comment, Terra, and I believe you are completely correct that there are more men who will take advantage of a holiday situation to indulge in a post-meal snooze. However, I do believe that this is more of a cultural and social construct that is beginning to fail in its predominance as time passes – starting with what I witnessed with my own mother after she turned over the majority of meal-making duties on holidays to my brothers and I over the years. She would happily indulge in that nap, and I say ‘good for her’ as she certainly deserved it! I do think, though, that the men who take advantage of that situation can do so, and get away with it, because their partners let them.

      And I would never assert that either gender has a ‘right to nap’ – particularily men. Doesn’t mean that they don’t do it anyway!

  5. I support the right to nap!! A snack and a nap can alter an attitude and increase production! (or decrease the amount of harm that might come to a sleep deprived diving blood sugar hangry sort of human). My beloved was always production oriented, never time for the nap!! Me? I say LOOK TO THE NAP!! And now, he, after 20 years of my encouragement can see the beauty, nay POWER that comes to the napper, and takes a lunch snooze every day at lunch. Nap on, nappers. You have been saluted! ZZZ!

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