Today's world is dog-eat-dog, a rat race, a torturous slog to the summit of Me Mountain, where a pack of go-getters is already halfway to planting their individual flags. But stand by, chief, because I've got a tip that'll put you ahead of the pack of adrenaline monsters wearing nice watches and thousand-yard stares
Ready? Here it is: lie down and close your eyes. Yep, in the middle of the day. Outside. I can hear you panicking already. Relax, I'm not suggesting you cue up a nine-hour playlist of 70s stadium rock on your phone and conk out until the years slip by in a haze of fusion rock fantasy, denial, and under-earning. To the contrary, I'm still talking about winning — about crushing the summer and every opportunity it brings. Like napping outdoors.
First, the basics: before you do any sort of en plein air napping this summer, you'll need armor. For both your body and your face. Try Banana Boat® Men's Triple Defense sunscreen to defy the sun responsibly as you nap. (It also works while you're awake.) Now that your skin is protected, here's what you need to accomplish the perfect outdoor nap:
1. Your body. Note: You will not be needing the brain and all of its yammering about how a nap will lead to nothing but disaster and lost opportunity. Because the brain is lying. You'll also need some gear — use whatever's already on your body. That light jacket, that's perfect to lie on. Take it off and get it on the ground. The ubiquitous day pack satchel purse-like thing? That's a pillow, if you ask me.
2. A relaxing place outdoors where you won't be disturbed. Try the backyard, if you live in one of those places in the country that has those. I live in downtown New York, so the backyard is an alley and that's the one place I can't recommend napping (I did it once in the 90s, hopefully never again). Parks are an obvious choice. I especially love the idea of napping in the office park if you have one, that beautifully manicured sprawl of lawn in the middle of the entire cluster of offices that is your place of employ. There's something great about everyone developing nervous disorders at their desks over things that won't matter in ten years while seething in jealousy over your open-air bliss.
3. At least a little intel. For instance, you don't want to exceed thirty minutes total time for a nap. Go over thirty, you wake up deranged. I may be exaggerating, but experts like doctors and other people who finished college tell me that past thirty minutes, the body begins a full sleep cycle and will not respond well to waking before completing it; you'll wake up groggy and in a bad mood (so, like I said: deranged).
You also want to eliminate any interruptions. You've escaped the office and the people, but guess what you carry in your pocket at all times? Yep, a thin, rectangular, miniature office filled with people. So turn off your phone. I'm sure you're super important and I understand you need to remain in constant contact (by the way, you're sleeping outside, President of the World) but let it go for fifteen minutes.
Lastly, you need the right time and position. The best time to nap is between two and four in the afternoon, so as not to interfere with your ability to sleep well at night. It's also when your post-lunch drowsiness starts to kick in.
As for the perfect position, sleeping on your right side in the fetal position is largely applauded by brainiacs, because it reduces stress on internal organs. Fair enough, but if you ask me, sleeping outdoors in the fetal position at three in the afternoon makes you look like you were just fired and are consequently drunk and passed out in a park. You might wake up amongst the loose change colleagues tossed your way; Steve from Accounting will be saying "God bless you" as he walks past. Instead, try sleeping on your back. It reduces stress on the hips, facilitates daydreaming, and the only drawback is that you might snore. But guess what, you've only got 20 or 30 minutes, and you're outside, so...
4. Practice. You might not be great at napping to begin with, you might only drift off for part of the allotted time, but you're going to get better as the body and brain adjust to these mini sleep sessions. By midsummer you'll be so good at napping you'll be able to hit the ground and bliss out right in the middle of a boring barbecue or emotionally challenging wedding.
So slap on some Banana Boat® Men's Triple Defense sunscreen and take a quick nap in the fresh air and sunshine — you'll rest and revitalize your brain and body, reinforce your position in the race to success, and wake up with a healthy glow. All that's left to do now is stretch in a controlled enough manner as to not boldly announce to passersby that you regularly sleep on the ground, and grab a bottle of water. It'll help erase your cotton mouth before you head back to work.
I'm happy to have blown your mind today here on the Internet by bringing you one step closer to living well on this planet of mixed up creatures just trying to get further a head than we were yesterday. I love you, man. Sorry if that was too much, that last part, I just feel like we're onto something here.
Are you prepared for en plein air? Not until you've armed yourself with Banana Boat® Men's Triple Defense sunscreen. Learn more here.
Dan Kennedy is host of The Moth storytelling podcast and author of the novel AMERICAN SPIRIT. Twitter @DanKennedy_NYC