There has always been a stigma attached to adults who nap. People think you're sick, lazy or bored. My husband used to say, "I saw your poster child on TV today. President Reagan was napping at a summit meeting."

I don't know how it happened, but somewhere along the way, someone thought it was children who needed to rest during the day. What do they need to rest for? They don't do anything. It's the adults who get cranky and need sack time in the middle of the afternoon. Because it is considered a childish thing, many adults feel compelled to hide the fact that they drift off for an hour or so after lunch.My husband used to come home and say, "What's wrong with your face?"

"Bad skin," I would say, turning quickly away from him.

"It's chenille tracks!" he said. "You've been napping!"

The older I get, the more I really look forward to those midday siestas . . . especially after lunch. I discovered that I can do one of two things: digest my lunch or sit upright. I cannot do both at the same time.

George Sheehan, an authority on exercise and fitness, has come forward to shed some light on the subject in the current Runner's World. He writes, "Many highly successful people who have earned the freedom to do so, take naps after lunch."

He says authorities don't know everything about sleep, but they do acknowledge we need to repair and to restore our bodies for the following day with extra sleep. People have discovered that it diminishes tension and restores energy. When scientists put people underground with no access to clocks or sunlight, they found that most of them slept twice in a 24-hour period, once for six or seven hours and again for one or two hours. It's the way the body works best.

Frankly, I think there are a lot of closet nappers out there. Take Jimmy Swaggart. When he closes his eyes, is he praying? We'll never really know. And what about the pope when he slouches in a chair and covers his eyes with his hands. Meditating? Check his breathing. And when Mel Torme closes his eyes and sways, how can we be sure he hasn't left us for a while?

Even Time magazine reported that Americans are not getting enough sleep, and it is affecting the quality of our lives on every level. I wouldn't be surprised if napping became the next major sport in this country. All we need is a cute outfit to wear to bed with a matching headband and a pair of napping shoes that cost $95. This will be followed by a nap video by George Burns. Me? I'm perfect to write the book on "Is there life after lunch?"