They’re not just for kids anymore

Pop quiz: can taking a nap during the day be a good way to help meet your sleep requirements?

Generally, scientists agree that it’s best not to nap and to get a long, uninterrupted sleep every night instead. Unfortunately, that’s just not realistic for the typical college student. Considering how little sleep many students get, naps can be a valuable part of a daily routine. Studies have shown that naps can be a great way for sleep-deprived young adults to improve their mood and restore their mental and physical capabilities.

Naps aren’t just for kids and grandparents. In fact, naps are a common practice among adults in other cultures around the world. The people in Spain and many Latin American countries normally take a siesta after lunch. Businesses close between 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. (the times may vary from region to region) and the streets become somewhat empty. Most people sleep for only 15 minutes or half an hour and use the rest of the time to relax and eat.

Many college students have adopted this model. More than 80 percent report that they nap at least once a week. Around 20 percent nap nearly every day.

Getting the Most Out of Your Nap

Naps aren’t for everyone. If you’re the kind of person who normally has trouble falling asleep at night, naps may not be for you. If you have to take a nap during the day, do it as early as you can. Morning naps are good, and early-afternoon naps are acceptable. Napping after 3 p.m. may interfere with your ability to fall asleep that night. Many students have a gap between classes that’s perfect for grabbing a quick power nap. Some students even schedule their classes so there is a break midday that they can use for napping.

Nap for half an hour. This is long enough to make you wake up feeling refreshed, and it won’t cut into that night’s sleep. Napping for longer will mean you enter deep sleep, which can make it hard to wake up again. Waking up from a deep sleep is not fun. You’ll feel tired, slow and otherwise zombie-like. Set an alarm before you nap. If you absolutely need to sleep for longer than half an hour, sleep for 90 minutes. This allows you to complete one full sleep cycle.

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