Even before I attended the retreat where I learned about Daoist napping, I had flirted with another sort of napping—high-tech napping using the MotionX Sleep app for iPhones.
Used during the night, Motion X monitors your movement so that it knows when you’ve fallen asleep and when you’re cycling from light sleep into deep sleep and back again. It triggers your phone’s alarm to wake you in the morning within the time window you’ve specified but while you’re in light sleep, so that you don’t get out of bed with that risen-from-the-dead feeling. (It also calculates things like your “sleep efficiency,” which I find ironic since I always thought sleep was when you didn’t have to worry about being efficient.)
I bought the Motion X Sleep app to find out if I might have sleep apnea, but I discovered it had a feature I didn’t expect—the Power Nap!
If you napped with the app, your iPhone’s alarm would wake you prior to the first time you’d enter deep sleep. By default this would be 26.5 minutes after you’d fallen asleep, although as the app got to know your sleep habits, it would adjust the time.
I slept with the app for two nights and one Power Nap. I was fascinated.
However, the Motion X Sleep version I bought recommended that you put your iPhone under your pillow if you had a Tempurpedic mattress. And I had just lain my head on the pillow for a third night’s sleep when it occurred to me to wonder why I was putting my phone under my pillow for an entire night when not long before I’d obsessed over whether talking on a cell phone might give me brain cancer.
I took the phone out from under my pillow and haven’t used the Motion X Sleep app since.
However, I just uploaded an update that lets you record sleep sounds which might include the snoring, the cessation of breathing and the gasping for breath that are hallmarks of sleep apnea. It suggests attaching your phone to your body with an armband to record your sleep sounds, which seems marginally less dangerous than sleeping with it under your brain.
So I will probably spend the night with Motion X Sleep again. I do still want to know if I might have sleep apnea—plus, like I said, the whole thing is fascinating.
But I don’t think I’ll use the Motion X app for taking any more Power Naps.
For whatever reason, when I nap the Daoist way—lying on my back with my right hand atop my upper solar plexus (below my heart) and my left hand on my dantian (below my navel), and with my left ankle crossed over my right—I spontaneously wake within 30 minutes. In other words, I take a Power Nap, without the assistance of my iPhone. I admit that if I really need to wake by a specific time, I set a back-up alarm—but I have been amazed at how rarely it’s rung before I’ve turned it off.
Somehow, much though I adore my iPhone, it just feels a lot cozier to nap the Daoist way than to nap with a phone strapped to my arm just waiting to ring.
So, score one for low tech….
But here’s one more thing… Wikipedia’s section on Power Napping—yes, there is one—reports that the surrealist painter Salvador “melting watches” Dali was an aficionado of what his fellow Spaniards called “Siesta del Hidalgo” or “The Gentleman’s Nap.” He would doze off in a chair with his arm dangling over the side, holding a spoon above a plate on the floor. The moment he began to enter deep sleep, his hand would relax and the spoon would fall and hit the plate, waking him up.
Dali didn’t have an iPhone, and he probably didn’t know about Daoist napping.
He had to improvise….