Now that I’ve got a little older there is not any trouble in dropping off to sleep in the afternoon. This is especially true if I lean back in my recliner immediately after lunch time.
In Spain and Latin America it is customary to take a siesta, a short nap. Businesses and employees do not usually allow or encourage napping during the business hours here in America. This would have to be done on their day off or after retirement. Nevertheless, a short nap can be refreshing and cause a person to be more productive after awaking. On the other hand, a long nap, one more than thirty minutes, can be counterproductive. A person might wake up sluggish and not perform as well. In fact, they may awake in a foul mood.
The term “forty winks” means to take a short nap, usually not in bed. It is an English expression, which can be used in the singular or plural. This idiom was used by the novelist Lewis Carroll in his novel Sylvie and Bruno when the leading character was dropping off to sleep while the Master of Ceremonies constantly nudged him saying, “I can’t let you sleep here! You’re not in bed, you know!” To which the sleepyhead responded, “I know I not, I’m in an arm-chair.” The Master of Ceremonies then said, “Well, forty winks will do you no harm,” and then walks off.
IT IS uncertain why the number 40 is used in that expression. Some think it was borrowed from the Bible in that that number was used several times therein.
In contrast to that idiom there are references to sleep such as “call it a night,” means to go to bed and retire for the night. To say that one didn’t sleep a wink means he didn’t sleep any at all.
Dub Mowery is a Gospel preacher in the Church of Christ. Presently he serves as full time evangelist for the Pittsburg Church of Christ. A native of Southeast Oklahoma, he is the author of Colloquial Sayings & Expressions (Morris Publishing, 2008)