Every student knows that napping is one of the most vital parts of surviving college life. We use these glorious rests to keep up with our stressful schedule of classes, studying, club meetings, volunteer work, more studying and perhaps even a social life. It is a rare night indeed when we can manage 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, which leaves us with the frequent choice of either pumping ourselves full of caffeine to stay awake during that awful econ lecture or choosing a strategic period of the day to nap and rejuvenate. Napping is the healthier option because fatigue is a serious issue that can cause accidents, harm job/school performance and put you in a horrible mood. However, you must know how to do it right.
1. When to Nap
According to Mayo Clinic, the ideal nap takes place sometime after lunch and before five o'clock, the reasoning for this being that getting some shut-eye in the late afternoon only makes it that much harder to fall asleep at night and can throw off your entire schedule. It is a good idea to take a nap after you eat lunch because when you wake up, you will have extra energy from both your rest and the food.
2. Where to Nap
Safety should be the most critical concern when selecting a place to nap. A secluded public area may be alluring if you can't make it back to your dorm room, but this leaves you vulnerable to theft from passerby. If you must take a public nap, do so in a well-lit area where there are plenty of students who would protest if someone snatched your book bag. The best place to nap is, obviously, in your bed in a locked dorm room. Not only is this the most comfortable place, but you will fall asleep much more quickly because of your body's acclimation to that area.
3. How Long to Nap
The typical one to two hour nap is not as beneficial as a 20 minute alternative. By sleeping for 20-30 minutes, you can avoid falling into a sleep cycle and waking up feeling groggier and worse off than you were before. But set your alarm for only 30 minutes, and reap the benefits of a boost in concentration, memory, and energy. If you absolutely have to have a longer rest, Sleep.org says that 90 minutes is a full REM cycle and has been proven to enhance creativity.
Remember that getting a full night's sleep is always the better choice over relying on napping throughout the day. However, college is an unusually busy and stressful time period and sometimes getting a consistent eight hours seems like a fantasy rather than reality. If you find yourself consistently missing your eight-hour mark, adjust your schedule. Nothing is more important than staying healthy.
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