The Engineering Nap

Also the design nap, the composing nap, and the writing nap. All useful and all done on the bed with your clothes on and your shoes off.

Naps, by definition, are short time-outs that rest and refresh, but contrary to some opinions, they need not involve unconsciousness. Some of the best naps are intense thinking exercises.

Let me say at the outset that I do not decry the short sleep. I take these sorts of naps every so often myself – they were the life-saver when I was in professional practice to let me power on for a full afternoon. My father favoured them when he was working in heavy construction and could come home for lunch. I see my wife and daughter conk out occasionally and they are generally better for it.

But I also find that a nap taken when the rest of the household is absent – and all the immediate work of the place is done – is a great tool for solving problems whilst still awake. Perhaps it is only half-awake – a twilight sort of rest that frees the mind to sort out confusion.

Sunday I napped for an hour and a bit in this wakeful mode. Eyes shut and nothing else happening in the house. I am going to be painting a model airplane with a complex colour scheme and I need to have the sequence of masking and spraying clear in my mind before I make serious errors.

The nap did that. I went through each stage of the procedure, examined and rejected several false starts, and eventually found a much easier way of doing it. I jotted the sequence down when I got up refreshed and the whole procedure will make life in the workshop delightful. A consequence of the nap is that I am more wakeful later at night and can either go ahead with the workshop procedure or go out and engage in my secondary profession; cat burglar.

Consider it a cat-nap.

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