Napping proves helpful, popular among college students

(U-WIRE) NORMAL, Ill. – Beep! Beep! Beep! The alarm goes off. Yet another day has started. Too early — it seems — for most college students.

It will be OK, though, because naps are a saving grace for tired students. For some people, naps are as regular and common as eating lunch or brushing teeth.

“Sleep is our body’s way of resting and rejuvenating,” Jim Almeda, an Illinois health educator, said. “If you’re not getting adequate amounts of sleep, napping can help.”

Most students agree with Almeda. On any college campus, students can be found napping in the daytime. In Mexico and other countries, more people set aside time out of the work and school day for daytime naps.

“Naps in general seem like they can be helpful for anyone at any age,” Almeda said. “There have been studies shown that it makes [people in Mexico who set aside time for naps] more productive. I think it would apply to college students too.”

“A quick [nap] can re-energize you and you might be more productive and there’s less chance of falling asleep in class,” Hayley Tryon, a senior deaf education major, said.

Almeda explained college student’s sleep cycles are unusual as they are more prone than adults to staying up late and waking late.

“I take naps because I’m up too late and I wake up too early and, if I have free time, I’ll try to read, but I usually just fall asleep and take a nap,” Tryon said. “Typically, college kids don’t get eight hours each night, and it’s good to catch up on some [sleep] during the day.”

“College students usually have a regular schedule during the week, but on weekends, they stay up later and want to sleep in later, but that throws off waking up on Monday morning,” Almeda said.

Naps may be a big help early in the day, but they are not a substitute for regular sleep.

“If you only get four or five hours of sleep, naps can’t make up for that,” Almeda said. “Getting enough sleep is important.”

According to the pamphlet “Getting What You Want From Sleep,” lack of sleep can lead to increased irritability and proneness to injury, decreased motivation, memory, concentration, creativity and spontaneity. People who do not get enough sleep also have a greater likelihood of problems, such as an upset stomach or headaches. Lack of sleep seems to be a big problem for ISU students.

“In a lot of our surveys, students report that they don’t get enough sleep or they don’t wake up in the morning feeling refreshed,” Almeda said.

Students should be aware of the possible drawbacks of naps. Almeda discourages taking naps too late in the day, as it can throw off a regular sleep schedule and make it harder to get to bed at night. “If I take a nap too late, I won’t sleep through the night because I won’t be as tired,” Tryon said.

Almeda also recommends only taking naps of 15 to 30 minutes. “Too much longer, and you go into a deep sleep, which can make you feel groggy,” Almeda said.

“Sometimes when I wake up from a nap, I’m just sluggish and I don’t get anything done,” Tryon said.

Despite popular belief, caffeine doesn’t help as much as a nap. “Naps are better than taking an energy drink or coffee when you crash in the early afternoon,” Almeda said.

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