By David Garza | Reporter
Naps. Everybody takes them, but should we?
Do everything you can to get enough sleep throughout the night so that you can avoid long naps throughout the day.
Naps should not last longer than 30 minutes. Power naps, typically 15 to 20 minutes, can help you feel re-energized. But if the nap lasts longer than 30 minutes, you run the risk of going into deep sleep. Deep sleep, the fourth stage of sleep in a 90-minute sleep cycle, is the reason why you wake up feeling groggy and disoriented after a long nap.
Not only should naps not last longer than 30 minutes, but they should also not be taken after 5 p.m. Any nap taken after 5 p.m. increases the chance of making night-time sleep more difficult. Essentially, you are borrowing time from your regular sleep schedule, which will lead to less sleep during the night and another nap the following day until you find a way to fix your sleep schedule. One nap can disrupt your sleep schedule and start an endless cycle of naps.
As a college student, sleep is very important. If you are not getting enough sleep your grades will suffer regardless of what you spend your time doing while you should be asleep. The fatigue of sleep depravity will cause you to lose focus or even fall asleep during class.
Studying should also not be a reason to deter you from sleeping. All-nighters are not as helpful as you might think. The best way to study for an exam would be to study, do something unrelated to the subject, relax for 30 minutes then go to sleep. During sleep, you go through something called “memory consolidation,” which helps you retain what you learned, which cramming through the night will not do.
There are a few reasons to take naps. If losing sleep is unavoidable, then you will have to make up the loss of sleep; you have to pay your sleep debt. Sleep debt is accrued every night you do not get enough sleep and it can have a harmful impact on your health.
According to a study from the University of Chicago, students who slept four hours a day for six continuous days “developed higher blood pressure and higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and they produced only half the usual number of antibodies to a flu vaccine. Students also showed signs of insulin resistance — a condition that is the precursor of type 2 diabetes and metabolic slowdown. All the changes were reversed when the students made up the hours of sleep they had lost.”
All of these adverse health effects can be avoided if you just sleep the right amount of time during the night. Try to avoid taking naps any longer than 30 minutes, after 5 p.m. and pay your sleep debt.
Prioritize sleep. Your GPA is important, but so is your health.