Confessions of a Serial Napper
It’s the end, beginning, or maybe smack dab in the middle of a very long day. You’re trying to do your work, but your eyes feel heavy and you begin to droop. Everything feels impossible, and you can’t even remember how to do something as basic as two plus two on your homework. Suddenly, out of the corner of your eye, you see it- the answer to all of your problems: Your bed.
Sorry, I don’t mean to generalize, a nap can take place literally anywhere. So far this year, I’ve napped in a whopping six different locations, including the skybridge of Court-Kay-Bauer. But the moral of the story remains the same: napping can be the answer to all of your troubles (except maybe student debt). However, while stressed with loads of school work, extracurricular activities, and obnoxiously loud suite-mates, you may be wondering if a nap is really the best option for you and your time constraints.
Disclaimer: it is.
That’s why I am here to provide you with some tips on how to get the most out of your snoozy siesta!
1) Embrace your nap: Seriously, don’t be shy about it! Although a nap might seem like a waste of time to you, it can actually boost your productivity. The Sleep Foundation finds that even a short nap can help improve mood, alertness, and performance. And this science isn’t new—40 years ago Cornell University psychologist James Maas found that a 20 minute power nap is actually better for your productivity than shotgunning a coffee. Napping has also been tied to sharper memory and creative thinking.
2) Limit yourself: Naps are great and everything, but don’t go too crazy! Psychology Today explains that cognitive skills can improve after just twenty minutes of napping. However, naps should either be twenty minutes or under, or the length of a full sleep cycle, which is 90 minutes. Anything in between will just cause sleep inertia and leave you wanting more. It’s like when life gives you a box of chocolates, you either limit yourself to one or eat the entire box. Likewise with naps, settle for a quickie or sleep for an entire sleep cycle.
3) Napping position matters: I wish someone had told me that I deserve BETTER than two conjoined wooden chairs on the second floor of Duffield Hall. My back will forever pay the price. Rather than slouch over a table or lie back on a wall, treat yourself to something comfortable and your body will thank you. Medical researcher Daniel Zhao finds that lying down is actually the best sleeping position for “restoring alertness”, so sit back, relax, and get comfy!
4) Cue that white noise: “Alexa, play soothing rain sounds”. There’s nothing worse than a distraction while you sleep. The constant buzzing of your phone, the yapping of those that live around you, or the sounds of the marching band banging drums right outside of your dorm room can cause fluctuations in your circadian rhythm. Do yourself a favor and limit those distractions. I personally always opt for white noise, as the Sleep Foundation finds that it can help to de-stress and improves your mental cognition. However, this one is a personal choice. Whether you want to invest in some earbuds and go for total silence, or you want to snooze off to punk rock, you do you. As long as you are exposed to constant noise (or constant silence), your nap will be devoid of disturbances.
Take it from me, if you follow these guidelines your naps and your life will improve drastically. Can’t focus on your homework? Take a nap. Just got dumped and don’t know how to cope? Nap it out! Trying to solve global warming? Nap your (and the world’s) troubles away. However, don’t allow naps to be compensation for insane sleep deprivation. Naps can’t make up for poor quality night time sleep, but they can provide you with additional benefits to your routine nightly slumber. In fact, in the middle of writing this article, I grabbed some z’s myself! So from now on, the only kind of coffee you should be drinking is some good old shuteye.
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