Every afternoon, at around 2 pm, while you're most likely sipping your second iced coffee of the day, you probably scroll upon some variation of a meme that reads "bet you really wish you could get back all those naps you refused to take as a kid." You weakly double-tap, wondering why, exactly, you hated nap time in kindergarten. At this point in your energy lag you can only manage to think Tweet-like thoughts: "Nap breaks should replace lunch breaks." "Why don't adults get mandatory nap time?" "Could I pull a George Costanza and get away with napping under my desk right now?"
The bad news, of course, is that not even George Costanza was able to pull off the secret desk-napping scheme for long. The good news, however, is that you are not alone. Everyone wants naps these days - and whether it's due to the humidity or the inevitable aging of millennials' bodies, they've officially become this summer's hottest (and most thought-provoking) trend.
It certainly plays into the whole "self-care" thing. The idea of Wellness, once marked by a frenetic desire to sweat and move constantly, has mellowed out. Rest is good for you! Naps are health! But, just like all those pricey fitness classes and colonics (glam!), rest is a privilege. Laziness, as we all know, is a luxury.
In Ottessa Moshfegh's buzzed-about new novel, My Year of Rest and Relaxation, a tall, blonde, thin, and moneyed Upper East Side twentysomething embraces this concept to the point of dark hyperbole. She quits the cushy gallery girl job she didn't need for any financial reason in the first place, and self medicates into oblivion in an attempt to sleep for a year and return to life renewed. Purified. A sleep cleanse, if you will. An inheritance and the ability to put bills on autopay allows the unnamed narrator to do this without the burden of, oh, you know, getting up and going to work.
Not only is the book strangely addictive (much like the narrator's pills), it's also strangely aspirational. Who wouldn't want an endless series of naps at their disposal?
"I went straight into black emptiness, an infinite space of nothingness. I was neither scared nor elated in that space. I had no visions. I had no ideas. If I had a distinct thought, I would hear it, and the sound of it would echo and echo until it got absorbed by the darkness and disappeared. There was no response necessary. No inane conversation with myself. It was peaceful," says Moshfegh's character, describing one of her pre-unemployed workplace naps in the gallery's supply closet. "I was awake in the sleep, somehow. I felt good. Almost happy."
Weirdly enough, in the middle of a recent summertime weekday, I had the same exact feeling during an on-the-clock nap. If you're my boss and you're reading this, let me explain.
Casper, the social media savvy mattress brand whose subway ads you've most definitely been amused by, has expanded its NoHo Sleep Shop to include The Dreamery. It is exactly what it sounds like - a whimsical, Instagrammable space to indulge in a bespoke nap. It is also, quite frankly, genius. And while it's not the first New York destination to provide middle-of-the-day R&R, it is certainly the chicest.
Like most "experiences" in New York in the year 2018, it is heavily branded and practically made to be hashtagged. But it is so magical, you hardly even care. When I left the office and arrived at The Dreamery for a mid-afternoon sleep sesh, I was greeted by a starry entryway. I was given designer, celestial pajamas by Sleepy Jones. I was escorted into a spa-like locker room with private changing areas and skincare products by the coveted beauty brand, Sunday Riley. I took so many selfies. My sleep mask had adorable little eyelashes on it.
When it was time to tuck in for my 45-minute slot, I was led into a dim, quiet room full of very roomy sleep pods. They each boasted a full size Casper mattress, clean, white bedding, heavy curtain doors, adjustable lighting, and a built-in nightstand complete with power outlets. They've really thought of every way to recharge.
I put my phone on airplane mode and concentrated on falling asleep. What Moshfegh wrote was true - my nap mentality differs from my "nighttime sleep" one. I wasn't wired on the day's events, rehashing awkward things I said to people or stressing out about tomorrow. There was "no inane conversation with myself." Before I realized I'd drifted off, I was already being gently roused by the soundless brightening of my pod light - a task that discreetly belongs to one of The Dreamery's staff members. Unlike most mornings, I felt awake. It was... empowering? I felt like I could get shit done. Feminism, bitches!
Well... the "self care" movement has been generally embraced by the feminist community, though not without some controversy. After all, the spectrum of wellness could range from an expensive treatment approved by Goop, to an hour of much-needed alone time for a working mother. The advertised version of "treat yo self" is excessive, but the crucial version is necessary: manicures versus mental healthcare. It's understandable that many people find the concept elitist and exclusionary, because, in many ways, it is. Time is money, and an extra hour of sleep in the day can cost you - quite literally. An appointment at The Dreamery? $25. Skipping a shift at the restaurant because of physical and mental exhaustion? That could cost somebody their entire income. See, it's complicated.
Now, when "self care" is operating at its best, it's obvious that it should fall into the feminine realm. Anyone who's heard Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work," or is somewhat familiar with the history of humankind, would know why: women have always carried not only their own weight, but the weight of their families, their communities. The burden is both existential and biological - women physically carry the children, and there's never been a time card for punching in and out of motherhood. That's why "taking some me time," in the most mommy blog of terms, can feel like a revolutionary act. One could even consider the amplified self-involvement of the narrator of My Year of Rest and Relaxation to be a feminist rejection of the things society expects of her: beauty, empathy, kindness. She's really just like, I don't owe anybody anything, I just want to sleep.
Nevertheless, napping is pretty gender-neutral. There was a surprising number of men padding around in their PJs at Casper's Dreamery, and just last week both my best friend and I were respectively stood up by dates who actually said they couldn't hang out because they needed to nap. There, indeed, is the blazing difference: dudes have always been privileged enough to be unapologetic when it comes to their needs (ahem, George Costanza). It's about time women acted the same way.
So go ahead, take a nap. You don't have to Instagram it, but I won't judge you if you do.
[Cover photo via Reshot]