You were in Lau until 4 a.m. trying to stay awake, cramming for your 8 a.m. midterm. You totally killed that test (you hope), but now you have to run to your T.A.’s office hours, grab lunch with your peer advisor and take a shift at work before you can get any down time. You finally have an hour before your next class, and the weight of your eyelids tells you there’s no way you’ll get through it without catching some z’s. That’s where we at 4E come in. After extended research and experimenting, we would like to provide you with this comprehensive guide to napping and all its wonders:
Types of Naps:
The various kinds of naps range in length, purpose and effectiveness. Depending on who you talk to, each habitual napper will swear by his or her method, so figure out what works for you.
1. Power Naps: One of my personal favorite naps, these snoozes are taken for a short period of time (typically 15-20 minutes) and end before you enter a deep sleep cycle. For quick rejuvenation, I’d definitely recommend these. For an added bonus, drink a cup of coffee right before going down for your nap. The caffeine will kick in when you wake up and you’ll experience the double whammy of the caffeine and sleep revitalization – BOOM.
2. NASA Naps: Similar to the aforementioned power nap, but with a twist. Research on pilots has shown that a 26-minute nap can improve alertness and greatly enhance performance. Just make sure you set your alarm – one minute more or less and you’re a goner.
3. The Necessary Ninety-Minute Nap (NNN): A full REM sleep cycle takes place in 90 minutes, so this is one nap that you can turn to when you don’t want to mess around. I often find, however, that a nap of this caliber quickly escalates from 90 to 180 minutes, so be sure to set enough alarms and let a roommate know when you need to wake up.
Benefits of Napping:
According to the National Sleep Foundation (hello, where can I sign up for that?), the obvious benefits of daily naps include improved alertness and productivity during waking hours. Additionally, naps can be a mini-vacation and a chance for one to recuperate. On a personal note, I have also realized that most of my best dreams (exploring secret passages, driving really fast, fighting crime, etc.) have happened during my afternoon naps, so I guess that’s just another motivating factor for consistent napping.
Disadvantages of Napping:
One of the riskiest parts of napping during the day is the sleep inertia it may cause. Much like my nap today, 45 minutes quickly can turn into a hour, and soon enough you wake up and it’s dark outside and you’ve forgotten what day it is and you’re not sure why you’re still wearing your shoes. For that reason, alarms while napping will be both your best friends and worst enemies. Additionally, the timing of a nap may prevent you from restful sleep during the night, which will only perpetuate your sleep deprivation further into the week. Try to stay away from naps too late in the day to prevent this cycle.
The Great Debate:
It’s the age old question: To nap or not to nap? As a general rule of thumb, assessing your productivity level and comparing it to how it would be if you took a 20-minute nap is a good measure.
If you continue to work at the pace you are, will it take you twice as long to complete a task that you might be able to do more quickly after only resting? If so, kick your feet up and give yourself a short break. Make sure you only apply this logic when you really do think you’ll be more productive, as you may actually just be pulling the whole “I’ll be more productive after a nap” line as an excuse to dive back into those ninja warrior dreams you’ve been having lately – or maybe I’m the only one who has been having those dreams lately.
In the hectic lives of the typical Hoya, we can often be discouraged from taking a few minutes out of the day for our own sanity and health. However, if you’ve been working hard and napping can improve productivity, there’s no doubt you’ve earned it. Plus, you’ll be in the company of famous habitual nappers JFK, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison and Lindsay Lee. If that doesn’t prove this practice’s effectiveness, I don’t know what does. Now I’m going to go catch some Z’s myself. Happy napping, Hoyas!
Photos: Jamey Stegmaier, Personal.PSU.edu, Buzznet, Blog.Bufferapp.com