Averi Amsterdam, Staff Writer
What is sleep? This is a common question running through everyone’s mind as finals week begins and they move out of their room and into the library. Between the endless reviewing of notes, study groups, and finals, there may not be enough hours in the day to get the recommended eight hours of sleep. The easiest way to catch up on those lost hours is napping. What are the dos and don’ts of naps, and are they really beneficial?
Do: Keep your nap short. Scientists say the perfect amount of time to nap is between 10 and 30 minutes. Anything longer will make you feel groggy and make it much more difficult to get back out of bed and move along with your day.
Do: Plan to take your nap in the mid-afternoon. At this time of day, you are usually feeling that post-lunch time sleepiness or your energy is starting to run low. It is also far enough away from your bedtime that it wont disrupt your night’s sleep.
Do: Take your nap in a peaceful, comfortable environment. While it may seem convenient to put your head down in the library and fall asleep real quick before getting back on that study grind, you will find it much easier to take your nap when you take yourself out of the stressful environment.
Don’t: Take a nap at night when you plan on sleeping soon. This will make it more difficult for you to fall asleep for the night and disrupt your normal sleep patterns. Taking a nap once it is dark out might confuse your body to think it is going to sleep for the night.
Don’t: Substitute naps for a good night’s sleep. While you may not believe you have enough hours in the day to do so, naps will not leave you as rested or alert for long periods of time.
Don’t: Drink alcohol or take sleeping aids to assist with your nap. While you may think this will help you fall asleep easier when you are having difficulty doing so, in reality, it will leave you feeling more tired and groggier once you wake up.
Naps can improve your memory. During finals, this is the most important benefit to students. Taking a little time out of your long day of studying to nap will allow yourself to absorb and retain the information, making it easier for you to recall.
Naps will also increase your mood and leave you feeling more relaxed, as well as increase your alertness and reduce fatigue. Finals will leave you feeling stressed and cranky, but taking 30 minutes out of your day to nap will make you feel better and make you more motivated to get back to studying.
Some experts even say drinking coffee before you nap will result in greater alertness upon waking up. However, in order for the caffeine to not negatively affect your nap, they suggest drinking the coffee 15 minutes before sleeping. This gives time for your body to digest the caffeine so when you wake up, it will be in effect.
As the semester comes to a close, remember to take care of yourself and ensure that your body is getting the sleep it deserves. Whether that means a full eight hours of sleep at night, or taking a nap in the mid afternoon, don’t let the stress take over. Good luck, and remember, winter break is finally within reach.