Dad was wrong.

As a kid, every chance I got during the summer, I flopped onto the couch in front of a fan to read books until I drifted off to sleep. Summers were for napping.

Dad toiled at a full-time factory job before coming home to climb onto the tractor and work the fields the rest of the day on our small farm.

“How can you stand to be cooped up inside on a beautiful day like this?” he’d ask before heading to the barn. “You should be enjoying the outdoors.”

I tried once, but ants crawled across the pages of my Hardy Boys mystery, marched through my shirt sleeves and began excavation work on my back. I returned to the great indoors.

“Play baseball. Ride bikes. Build tree forts — that’s what you could have done,” Dad said. Then he slapped my farming cap on my pillow. “Too late. Nap time’s over. We’re baling hay.”

I never understood how my city friends got all gushy about going on hay rides. My whole summers were devoted to jostling across bumpy fields on hay rides under the blazing sun.

Once we stacked those heavy bricks of alfalfa and clover as high as we dared on the wagon, we’d have to unload it all and restack the bales in a hot, dusty hayloft.

Every fall, when a cute young lady asked me to join her on a hay ride, I’d scream and run the other way. Sharing wagons all vacation with a bunch of smelly, sweaty brothers and cousins will do that to a guy.

“Baling hay,” Dad said. “It’s much healthier than sleeping your summer away.”

That’s where he erred. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans don’t get enough sleep. Our decreased time in the sack contributes to increased rates of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression.

Teens need eight to 11 hours of sleep a day to be health, according to the National Institute of Health. Adults need seven to nine hours. But 40 percent of us are getting less, some of us far less.

We try to make up for it with naps. I personally nap three to five times daily at the office. I wear glasses painted with wide-awake eyeballs.

“Those stupid glasses aren’t fooling anyone,” my boss snapped. “Wipe that drool off your keyboard and get back to work.”

The quest for good health isn’t easy.

How long is the perfect nap? My extensive research concludes just five more minutes. I really mean 20 more minutes, but when my boss shakes me away, the groggy response always comes out, “Jus’ fibe moreb minasskkknnxxx.”

Well now it’s summertime, which is the perfect time of the year to kick back, relax and nap — provided you don’t live on a farm. Or have a job. Or a yard.

As the great philosopher James Dent summed it up, “A perfect summer day is when the sun is shining, the breeze is blowing, the birds are singing and the lawnmower is broken.”

The great philosopher Sam Keen concurred: “Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.”

So kick off your shoes, pick up a book for shade and enjoy a long summer’s nap. Your health depends on it.


The opinions expressed in this column are not exactly what the medical community had in mind. Wake up Cole at, on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook or @BurtonWCole on Twitter.

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