clothing · fashion · rest · sleep

Aren’t all dresses nap dresses?

The ads in my digital media news feeds know what I’m up to. Which is to say staying at home, working from home, exercising at home, spending time with family, and napping. I’m also dressing differently now my life is one big blur of working, exercising, doomscrolling, eating, sleeping etc.

Enter the nap dress. I swear ads for different versions of this dress make up half of the advertising I see these days.

And that makes sense given that I’ve declared myself the Pandemic Nap Queen.

Haven’t heard of this pandemic fashion trend yet? See Meet the Nap Dress — Summer’s Biggest Must Have, Meet The ‘Nap Dress,’ The Latest Pandemic Clothing Trend, and Why a nap dress is about to become your new summer staple.

This New Yorker piece explains the allure of the nap dress.

Rachel Syme writes, “Since sleeping through the night was not happening, I figured an outfit specifically designated for daytime dozing might be just the thing. One could theoretically wear a Nap Dress to bed, but it is decidedly not a nightgown. (For one, it is opaque enough to wear to the grocery store.) It is not the same thing as a caftan, which, though often luxurious, is more shapeless and more grown-up. It is not a housedress, which we tend to associate with older women shuffling onto the stoop to grab the morning paper, the curlers still in their hair. A housedress is about forgetting the self, or at least hiding it under layers of quilted fabric. The Nap Dress, on the other hand, suggests a cheeky indulgence for one’s body, and a childlike return to waking up bleary-eyed hours before dinner.”

Here’s what some of them look like:

The nap dress is part of the daytime nightwear trend.

In “The Uneasy Privilege Of The Daytime Nightgown,” Veronique Hyland talks about the politics of who gets to wear a daytime nap dress during the pandemic. It’s not frontline workers, grocery store clerks, transit workers, and people driving UberEats to pay rent.

“I can appreciate the aesthetic appeal of a nightgown. I get that they’re comfortable, and who doesn’t crave comfort right now? It’s possible that I’m projecting way too much onto a few yards of fabric. But the nightgown, especially as daywear, strikes me as reactionary. Its evocations of passive Victorian and pre-Raphaelite femininity feel like an uncritical throwback to those eras’ mold of white female fragility. The styling of these images evokes sleeping beauties or Ophelias, or worse, invalids. Fashioning yourself as a tubercular Victorian might once have felt ironic; with millions in the grip of a real pandemic—one that is disproportionately affecting Black and brown communities—it feels Marie Antoinette-at-the-Hameau-level out of touch. And in 2020, the idea of “checking out” and into the seductive world of blameless slumber that the nightgown invites us to, does too. It serves as a reminder that while some people are taking to the streets, others are taking to their beds.”

You don’t need a fancy new specially designed nap dress to get into the spirit of the being well-rested. And maybe we can be well-rested, including naps, so that we can work and protest. Tracy’s posts on naps as a form of resistance talks about that connection.

This is speedy, short post, quickly written before I zoom away for holidays where there will definitely be lots and lots of napping but also definitely not any special nap dresses!

See you when I’m back after a week of canoe camping in Algonquin Park.

The Nap Ministry

covid19 · fitness · self care · sleep

Queen of the pandemic naps

This is me, happy napping, at the end of a long work day.

I don’t know about you but COVID-19 and #wfhlife hasn’t been great for my sleep. I can always fall asleep…see the comic below, it’s me….but I’ve been having nightmares and sometimes waking up way too early. I fall asleep quickly but if I wake I struggle to get back to sleep.

Early morning doom scrolling doesn’t help.

Another sleep complication is that my Zwift races tend to be late, 830 and 900 pm often and they’re all an hour or an hour and a half long. After it’s hard to relax and go to sleep right away. I’m still all zoom zoom, go go, for at least another hour.

Enter the post work nap!

Work. Nap. Supper. Zwift. Sometimes I go back to work after. Shhh! But more often I watch an episode of something and go to sleep. I’m getting more than 8 hours sleep, averaging 8.5 according to my Garmin watch, even if it’s not all in one go.

This would be more challenging if we had children at home but these days we’re empty nesters. Napping in the nest, that’s me.

Has the pandemic changed your sleep patterns at all? Are you struggling a bit with disrupted sleep?

sleep · winter

Waking to light instead of noise

Maybe it’s the Aikido influence but I think beginnings and endings really matter. This post focuses on beginnings. I am a fan of start as you mean to continue. I enjoy my mornings. I do some of my best writing in the morning. I love it when I have time to exercise in the morning. Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. I love my bike ride to work. But as we move into darker days getting going can be a challenge.

I recently bought a lamp that’s meant to be useful in combatting seasonal affective disorder. I like it. But now the company is also marketing other things my way, like an alarm clock that works by simulating the morning light. I confess. I bought one. Also, I love it.

It’s much better than the Rock alarm clock. It’s much better than repeatedly hitting the snooze button on your phone alarm.

I love the gradual lightning of the room. I like the bright light at 6 am. If I’m well rested the light alone is enough to wake me. I wasn’t sure how it would work if I was not getting enough sleep. Answer: it didn’t really. Instead, I was woken up by the back up sound alarm. That was much less enjoyable but I’m glad it’s there.

fitness · sleep

Why is being well rested the privilege I’m too embarassed to talk about?

“I’m having a busy start of the university year and I rode my bike in a 100 km Gran Fondo on the weekend. I also slept 10 hours last night.”

I nearly posted that to Facebook in September after a busy weekend but I didn’t. It wasn’t the riding my bike that felt like boasting. It was the sleep!

I thought about all the blog followers and FB friends whose lives don’t allow 10 hours of sleep. I decided not to share.

These days I often go to bed early Sunday evening and begin the week pretty well rested, knowing that I can’t do it every night. I’ve got a lot of privilege in our society. I’ve got a lot of education and an amazing job. But the one privilege that I’m shy about admitting is that I’m often pretty well rested.

I don’t harp about my sleep habits mostly because I don’t want the late night Netflix watchers among you to think that I’m judgey. I’m not. I’m definitely not at all judgey about people with small kids, caring for elderly parents, or working long hard shifts. The thing is for me, I get tired in the evening and I have a hard time staying awake. If I put on Netflix I’d be “zzzzzz” within minutes. I joke that sleep is my super power. I get really tired in the evening and I feel like I can’t stay awake. We talk about the need to prioritize sleep but I often feel that I don’t have a choice.

I read this from the Nap Ministry about developing a sleep practise and I think the going to bed early on Sunday is definitely part of my sleep practice.

” Insight into your faithful Nap Bishop’s rest practice.
1. I do not rush or overbook my calendar. I view my calendar with intuition and I have never been lead astray by my intuition. Rest allows you to connect with what you really feel and know. Grinding keeps you in a cycle of trauma.
2. I will not argue or debate with anyone on social media. You will never worry me. Arguing takes away from time I can use to nap. It is a radical act for a black woman to decide and practice a “no arguing/debate” policy because most people use these platforms to argue and most people assume they have access to black women for this role. The theories of the Nap Ministry have close to 20 years of practice/research and 4 years of graduate studies in one of the top seminaries in country. If you wanna argue or don’t agree, don’t follow and go start your own organization and blog about it.
3. I rest everyday for at least 30 mins to an hour. I book my calendar so that it is possible. I may nap on the couch, stare out a window, rest my eyes while “

Photo of the Nap Bishop from their Facebook page

What’s your sleep practise look like? Do you have any commitments about sleep like the ones that Nap Bishop makes?

fitness · rest · sleep

No sleep for the homeless and fancy sleep for the rich? A quick update on luxury sleep

Recently (okay, yesterday) I blogged about the weirdness of high end, Manhattan napping classes. Luxurious guided naps for $22/hour in a fitness class context.

When I shared the story to Facebook, a friend reminded me of the drastic measures taken to stop homeless people from napping in public via hostile architrecture.

Here’s an example.

Metro stop bench is tilted so attempting to lay down ends up with you sliding off. From https://interestingengineering.com/15-examples-anti-homeless-hostile-architecture-that-you-probably-never-noticed-before?fbclid=IwAR2RZYPaQrG_de82–GKl8gViv03YjplUn-PPaemCZnq1mmGikDgi0MoqLc

I remember one time my partner Jeff tried unsuccessfully to spend the night in a park in Florida but was woken when sprinklers came on. They weren’t needed for watering. Their purpose just was keeping people from making the park their overnight home.

So for the rich there’s the privatization and commodification of sleep and for the poor, there’s the policing and forbidding of sleeping.

More than ever we need the Nap Ministry.

fitness · sleep

High end luxury fancy sleep

Sleep is getting strange. From the never sleep crowd to the sleep as personal revolution set, there’s a lot of talk these days about sleep. It even made the program of the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy conference we recently hosted at Guelph as the topic of one of the papers presented.

Feminist philosopher Cressida Heyes describes her feminist sleep project this way, “In 2017 I won a SSHRC Insight Grant for my new project, Sleep is the New Sex. Put simply, I hope to write the first feminist philosophy of sleep. This work continues Anaesthetics of Existence in its focus on liminal states of consciousness and their political consequences, but has a more obviously thematic focus and will be written in a more popular voice.”

Fascinating, right?

We blog about sleep a lot here too. I’ve got lots to say about sleep but the thing that weirds me out the the most is upscale sleep, expensive sleep, sleep with a price tag attached. Fancy sleep.

I’ll get to that in a minute.

Let’s note first that sleep tracks social privilege. For example, black Americans get a lot less sleep than white Americans. In fact, the difference in sleep quantity between the two groups may be enough to explain the difference in life expectancy between the two groups.

“The racial inequalities in the US are stark, but none are more damaging than the health gap between blacks and whites. On average, blacks die at a significantly younger age than whites.”

Here is a recent report on sleep differences between black and white Americans, Nobody Sleeps Better Than White People, Says Study. And here’s my response in a past blog post: Sleep and social privilege, or why rich white people like me should stop whining about how tired we all are

That important detail out of the way here’s three recent updates from the world of commodified sleep.

First, forget standing desks, napping desks are the next big thing.

Napping desk

Second, Toronto just got its first napping studio. The first adult nap room I encountered was for undergraduate students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I was a new grad student and I knew that lots of the students, commuters all, led busy lives, taking classes and working, often in shifts that didn’t easily line up. I was happy to see that there was a nap room where you could sign in, nap, and be woken up when you needed to work or go to class. Now they even have nap pods.

Napping studio

Third, I just came back from a weekend in New York. While waiting for a friend, I spied this place, Inscape, a meditation studio in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan that offers “deep rest” classes. You can read more about them here.

Here’s a photo of people in the “deep rest” class.

See also Sleep is the new status symbol.

I can’t imagine paying for napping classes. Spin classes, yes. Yoga, yes. Napping, no. Why does the latter strike me as incredibly privileged and so rich and wasteful while the former options do not? Would you take pricey nap classes?

I much prefer the activist, anti-consumerist approach of the Nap Ministry‘s public nap-ins. or collective nap experiences. “The 2nd Thursday of every month we will be at one of our favorite spaces with a FREE Pop-Up Rest Event. It is a perfect opportunity to experience our programming, meet the Nap Bishop, have a cup of tea, and curl up and rest with cozy yoga mats, pillows and blankets. You can drop in to catch a restorative cat nap or stay for a longer rest. We look forward to seeing you.” Their website includes advice for good places for public napping.

from https://thenapministry.app.rsvpify.com/ . A Nap Ministry Collective Napping Experience.
Sat with Nat · sleep

Nat’s still waiting to fall in love with her CPAP

About a year ago I went for a sleep study and got my results. I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and prescribed a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine.

You can read my original post here.

Seven months later I’ve gotten used to using the machine every night. I’m still waiting to fall in love with my CPAP.

Things that really helped me get through the first couple months was tapping into my social support network. I learned there were different types of masks and tried them. In the end the rabbit nose worked for me.

I learned I could use it without water or heat settings. Totally revolutionized my experience. I turned off the auto-on/off and ramp up features. Finally I told my device provider that it felt like trying to sleep with my face out of a car window. They contacted the prescribing doctor and they dropped my pressure 2 points. It made a big difference.

I’m not seeing big gains in feeling rested or a boost in my mood or metabolism. So much for that! I definitely no longer snore so my partner and my throat are much happier. My blood pressure dropped 5 points. So some gains.

I had a follow up sleep test that was less invasive due to some changes in equipment. Less wires and not being tethered to the wall made a big difference. Natalie’s unimpressed face stares at the camera with wires and tape attached.

Ya. My expression is accurate. I’m tolerating and complying but I wouldn’t even say I’m feeling neutral about it.

I’m accepting but, when I really take a moment, I resent the CPAP and strongly dislike it. I miss slipping into bed and cuddling to my sweetie, my forehead pressed into the nap of his neck.

I miss spontaneous sex and even just going to sleep without the whole mask donning production.

My many friends who use these types of breathing devices assure me with time I will love it. I hope so.

rest · sleep · traveling · yoga

Sam has a bad flight and is fighting jet lag

I often claim that sleep is my superpower! 

I am one of those people who can sleep almost anywhere, anytime. I sleep on planes and I rarely experience jet lag. My trick is simple: arrive well-rested, spend time outside, make it through the day, and then bang, I’m good to go after a night’s sleep in my new location. It’s a good trick and I benefit lots from it. I’ve flown to New Zealand for four days and returned to work not much the worse for wear.

But right now I’m in Munich, speaking at a conference on Neglected Relationships.

” Personal Relationships have been a topic of philosophical research for quite some time. And rightfully so: they can contribute more to our well-being, give meaning to our lives, and generate salient moral duties and responsibilities. However, the debate has been focused on just a few types of relationships: friendships, the nuclear family, romantic partnership and co-citizenship. In this conference, we aim to explore the focus and explore what we call neglected relationships. These are kinds of relationships that play important part in our personal and moral lives, but that have gone largely underexplored by moral philosophers so far. ” My talk was on chosen family.

My flight turned out to be the Lufthansa equivalent of Air Canada Rouge. (It’s Rouge on the way home, I think.) I’m flying Basic Economy. I flew here on the “overnight” flight–scare quotes because it was just a 5 hour flight. The seats were super small, hard, and uncomfortable. I couldn’t sleep but I also couldn’t work because the person in front of me reclined into my lap. So I arrived sore and scrunched up and very, very tired. Thanks to my compression socks I didn’t have swollen ankles. But my knee hurt a lot from sitting squished into a small space with my knee brace on.

I walked to my hotel and that helped a bit. I napped too before settling down to work on my talk. But I was still really sore. Luckily Yoga with Adrienne came to my rescue! I discovered YWA through the 219 in 2019 fitness challenge group. I knew if I was going to make it to 300 workouts in 2019, I’d need an at home/travel plan. This series of moves really helped with the unscrunching. Indeed, after a day of sitting in talks I might just do it again!

My talk went well. I got some really good comments and I’m looking forward to working on it some more.

Here’s another good thing. Yummy vegetarian/vegan conference food. Also, no single use plastics. These are salads and dressing in glass bowls.

Glass bowls of salad and dressing. Yum!
fitness · rest · sleep

#NapOrWorkout

Image description: White sleeveless t-shirt that reads “KINDA WANNA WORKOUT> KINDA WANNA TAKE A NAP.”

There’s a social media hashtag that amuses me, #NapOrWorkout.

Mostly the people who use it are sharing about their drive to overcome the desire to nap and make it to the gym. It’s presented as a struggle. And I get it.

But on Twitter there are a few people who are taking it literally, as an actual choice goal. Like when I was in grad school my roommate had this deal with herself each night she’d either floss or do sit-ups. So the Twitter person is treating nap or workout that way. Each day she pledges to either nap or workout. I kinda love it.

Lots of people think that naps are an essential part of self-care.

Have a look at Tracy’s latest post about the Nap Ministry.

Me, I’m online shopping/browsing for deck furniture. I thought about an outdoor desk for writing but then started looking at furniture for napping!

fitness · sleep

Can leaving the light or TV on at night make you gain weight? Shining light on the subject

This week in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers published an article analyzing the relationship between artificial light at night (which they call ALAN– hi, Alan!) and increased risk of weight gain among women (they used a large cohort of women for the study). They say that exposure to ALAN does increase the risk of weight gain, and “further prospective and interventional studies could help elucidate this association and clarify whether reducing exposure to ALAN can promote obesity prevention.”

In other words:

As you can imagine (or even saw), the popular press was all over this.

What should we make of this? Before reading the study (yes, I read through the original, so you don’t have to), I thought, “of course they’ll find an association between ALAN and weight gain. Light exposure disturbs and disrupts sleep, reduces quality and duration, etc. We know all this can contribute to weight gain.”

But, it turns out that their results are (as usual, in science) really complicated. Here are some of the complex results:

  • The association between ALAN and increased risk of weight gain was stronger for women with lower BMIs (< 25 and <30) than women with higher BMIs (>30);
  • The association between ALAN and increased risk of weight gain was stronger for women who ate healthier diets and for women with increased leisure-time physical activity;
  • Women who slept with no light in the room, who ate a less healthy diet and/or who did less leisure-time physical activity had increased risk for weight gain;

So women who weighed less or who ate more so-called healthy diets or who were more physically active were more at risk for weight gain from light sources while sleeping than those who weighed more, ate less so-called healthy diets, or who were less physically active. Could this be because the added factor of light pales, as it were, in comparison to other potential factors? Reading the details did not shed much light for me here. The researchers also didn’t offer an explanation.

Here’s a less surprising result from the article:

Women with greater exposure to ALAN had higher mean BMI… and were more likely to be non-Hispanic black. They were less likely to have consistent waking and bedtime patterns and more likely to have less sleep, take a longer time to fall asleep, wake up at night, and take naps. They also used less sleep medication.

How we sleep and how we eat are related in a bunch of ways. How we sleep and how our bodies respond are also related in a bunch of ways, which include socio-economic, geographic and other external features outside of individual eating and activity behaviors. Women who sleep less, have less control over their sleep schedules, have regular sleep disruption, but don’t take sleep medication are bound to experience increased stress and other behavioral effects. And we know that black women, according to many sources, are more likely to sleep less and also suffer from sleep disorders (like sleep apnea), even controlling for BMI.

The researchers know this, too, and admitted as much (although they focused on individual factors rather than the social determinants of health, which I think diminishes their analysis):

We were unable to disentangle the temporal relationship between exposure to ALAN and other factors, including unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress, and other sleep characteristics. Thus, we cannot exclude the possibility that the association between ALAN and obesity is not causal, despite multivariable adjustment and various sensitivity analyses.

So no, ALAN is not good for us (sorry, Alan!). But the reasons why we sleep with light vary a lot, depending on the constraints and realities of our lives. We may have control over some of these factors, and no control at all over others.

My main takeaway is this: sleeping in darkness is a necessity, but for many of us it’s a luxury we can’t have as often as we might need it. Here’s to blissful darkness for everyone.

Readers, do you sleep in darkness? Do you use a sleep mask? I do. Do you want light in your room when you sleep? Do you have to deal with light sources that you’d rather not? Do light sources provide comfort or company? I’m curious about what your habits are.