Do’s and Don’ts of Napping for College Students
With all of the late nights and early mornings that come with being a college student, taking naps throughout the day seems to be the only thing that gets us through the day (besides all that iced coffee). But how many times have you gone to take a nap and ended up sleeping too long, or woken up feeling groggy for the rest of the day, or even had trouble falling asleep later that night? If you have ever experienced any of these things, it can make napping seem like it's not an option to help get you through the day.
If done properly, the benefits of napping daily are endless. Some benefits include improved memory and alertness, relaxation, reduced fatigue, and improved mood. If you are interested in napping or are looking to improve your nap game, check out some of these tips below:
Keep it short: Although it may seem tempting to lay down in the afternoon and sleep for a few hours; this is not going to help you when you go to bed later that night. Even taking an hour long nap can wreak havoc on your sleep schedule and make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep at night. The best choice is to keep your nap short (around 10-20 minutes). Keeping it short will allow your body to cycle through the first 2 stages of sleep without getting into REM sleep or deep sleep. The goal is to wake up feeling refreshed and able to power through the next few hours until you can relax for the evening when the day is done.
Find a peaceful space: Go somewhere quiet that is not going to be completely dark. Remember this should only take 20 minutes max so having black-out curtains is pajamas is not required.
Make it a routine: There is nothing wrong with taking naps every once in a while, but taking them at different times everyday is not great. The latter can throw off your sleep cycle and make sleeping at night difficult. So if you think you are a person that requires daily naps or naps most days, try to schedule a consistent time.
Take it before 3 pm: Unless you plan on staying up super late or are working an overnight shift, taking a nap after 3 pm is going to leave you feeling too energized for bed later that night.
Napping can be a powerful tool to manage stress and can help you get through college. If done properly, you can also maximize the health benefits of a nap without impacting your sleep cycle at night.
What is your favorite nap tip? Email us at Healthy.UNH@unh.edu!