I consider myself a functional narcoleptic. (It’s undiagnosed, no offense to all you diagnosed non-functional narcoleptics). If I have a 10:00 AM class, I wake up at 9:10, shower, dress, take a ten-minute nap, then dash out the door. If I sense my eyelids drooping while studying, I put my head down for a three-minute shot of ZZZZ’s. If I’m early for a meeting with my professor, I’ll set my cell phone’s alarm and dream a little dream while I wait. Because coffee is not my drug of choice, I supplement the short nights with little rejuvenating power naps. My record is four naps before noon.
Every lecture has its cast of nappers: the hoodies, the people who jerk awake, the slumped-over droolers, the long-hair-over-the-eyes kids, the cute sleeping couples, the snorers, and the dudes blatantly asleep in the balcony. My signature is the nano-nap. I look absolutely normal, except that I appear to be blinking incredibly slowly. Those fifteen seconds of shut-eye aren’t particularly restful, but at least I don’t miss too much. Well, sometimes I miss a few crucial sentences. Once I awoke to find my chemistry professor, Michael Hecht, demonstrating how to dance the merengue. It turned out he was pretending to be a rubber band.
I can doze off anywhere: on the sun-warmed slate roof of Blair Hall, on the floor in the corner of classrooms, on the bench behind Clio, while eating with friends in a crowded dining hall, during a dramatic reading of Moby Dick. I do it between classes and I do it in public, all over campus. I’m kind of like a flasher.
Perhaps my flagrant napping makes you nervous. Don’t worry, I never nap while bicycling. Perhaps you’re jealous of my ability to blissfully slumber through all of the campus hullabaloo. Don’t be—I once slept through a fire in my bedroom. My sister had been reading with a blanket over the lamp. When it was all over—after she carried the flaming blanket down the hallway, the smoke detector whined for half an hour, my parents rushed in, turned on all the lights, yelled a great deal, and my sister ceased hyperventilating and returned to bed—I finally sat up to ask, “What just happened?” I suppose there is one perk to being a heavy sleeper—my roommates don’t have to sexile me. I never hear a thing.
As a serial napper, I keep a list of my favorite sleeping spots at Princeton. My criteria are simple and my aim is pure. I’m not searching for exotic locations, as the zee-group-turned-slumber-party “Sleep Around Campus Klub” (SACK) did at the start of the 2009 academic year. I just want a refreshing sleep that doesn’t result in my pulling a muscle.
My undisputed Cloud Nine is a three-seater caramel leather sofa in the graduate students’ lounge of McCormick, the art museum. If I need a good long snooze after a night hitting the… Hulu… that’s where I go. Another excellent napping spot: any of the wide cocoa-brown leather chairs in Chancellor Green Rotunda. That room has incredible soporific powers – the dim stained-glass lighting, the dusty corners, the ambiance of other people also napping. The gray armchairs in Guyot Hall have added value because of the scenery—what’s not to love about waking up next to a dinosaur? Rocky Common Room’s chairs can be rearranged into an incredibly comfortable chaise longue. I may even get a complimentary piano concert. My only complaint is that sometimes I wake up surrounded by a crowd of sixty middle school girls on a tour, and I want to tell them, “Get out, I’m sleeping,” but I can’t. I also spend a lot of time in the psychology building’s chairs. I often go to Green Hall for the specific purpose of sleeping. For a social nap, I’ll set up camp in the lobby. For a more private nap I will move to the back of the Psychology Library. Those box-like red chairs provide an easy headrest. No neck cricks—that’s a real plus.
The big orange quadrangular couch in the tree house of the Lewis Library looks more comfortable than it really is. The expensive designer egg chairs on the lower floor are all right; I tend to fall forward out of them unless I sling my legs over the side. The Lewis Thomas Laboratory of molecular biology is a real yawn, as is Campus Club—two stars for the bad décor and mediocre chairs. If you enjoy the dulcet sounds of daytime ESPN, you could sleep in the Frist TV Lounge. I have done it in times of great trial, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I also enjoy Marquand Library, but I have awoken multiple times to affronted glares from actually studious people. Sleeping in the Woodrow Wilson School is difficult—those circular yellow couches don’t allow me to really stretch out—but win points for irony. The Friend Center is very napper-unfriendly. I had an average nap in Icahn’s lobby, though I woke up in the midst of about thirty-five people pretending to be birds (it was a rehearsal for the Flock Logic dance class). The inflexible wooden lecture seats in McCosh 50 make a poor mattress, and I give a thumbs-down to the pizza-scented Frist Gallery, particularly during Reading Period. When I slept on the couch on the third floor of Wilcox, I was bitten by ants, and it wasn’t even outdoors. (On a related note, I have never been harassed by any squirrels during my slumbers). The least fulfilling nap of my Princeton napping career occurred when I fell asleep with my head on a music stand while playing harp. If you’re in the Woolworth music practice rooms and you’re that desperate for sleep, just go upstairs and kick whoever is on the flowery cushioned bench by the elevator off of it. Tell them you just fell asleep on your music stand.
Firestone Library, too, is really terrible for getting my beauty sleep. Napping with my forehead on the table gives me a sore back. Books simply are not a substitute for pillows (I don’t know how the ancient Egyptians slept on their weird wooden neck-rests and survived without chiropractors). I always get cold and cannot sleep for fear I’ll wake up 200 years from now in the Oversized PZ Section with a beard more impressive than Rip van Winkle’s. (Man, that was a great episode of Wishbone.) Firestone also sets off the world’s loudest alarm clock every night at 11:45. Someday, though, I want to sleep in the Stacks on Tracks. I’ll enter the Land Before Time with a sleeping bag and a flashlight. It will be a grand adventure.