College students and napping are often thought of as a match made in heaven. The lazy student stereotype combined with a more lax working schedule suggests sleeping all day is the college norm. But this isn’t the case – and napping is actually anything but lazy. Naps can improve concentration and information retention, and thus be a key to better grades. Plus, they can help in other ways, such as tempering weight gain, boosting the immune system and even helping out with your partying. Here is a conclusive list of napping benefits to college students, and “being lazy” doesn’t appear once.
1. Pre Class – Improves Alertness
Napping reduces overtired grogginess and gives a burst of fresh energy to the body and mind. Taking what’s known as a “NASA nap” of 26 minutes has been proven to enhance alertness by 54%. Naps can also improve mental clarity and motor skills. Taking one prior to class can help you pay attention better, and will make you more likely to reach for an answer if you’re called on.
2. Post Class – Aids Memory
Napping for as little as an hour can reset your short term memory, allowing you to better retain information after you wake up. This is particularly perfect for college time, when you need to retain information effectively every day. There’s also evidence that those who nap immediately after learning new information retain said information better both immediately and over the course of the following days.
3. Furthers Understanding
Not only is information retention improved by napping, but naps themselves are a valuable time for our brain to move ideas and information across large areas of the brain. This type of sleep (called “slow wave sleep”) helps to connect different ideas and relate them to one another, building a wider web of understanding within the brain. Regular napping can therefore make you a more effective thinker, which is beneficial for your studies and for your life.
4. Tempers Mood Swings & Ameliorates Mood
College is a time where many people feel overloaded with stress and emotions. If you find yourself easily irritated or snapping at your classmates, it may well be that lack of sleep is the cause. While twenty minutes in the afternoon may not seem like enough to make up for missing hours by night but it can really make a difference. And or those who suffer from depressive episodes or times of consistently low mood, a lack of sleep can worsen symptoms. Keeping your sleep deprivation in check is a natural and effective way to alleviate feeling of gloom. Even those who aren’t prone to depression can benefit from the serotonin and cortisol boost that a short afternoon nap brings.
5. During Study Time – Boosts Concentration
If you’re finding a task particularly difficult or time consuming you may find it beneficial to take a nap. Rather than trawling through your work at the pace of a snail, a better use of time may be a nap followed by re-approaching work with a fresh and well-rested mindset. This can be particularly useful for any self-directed study, like doing required readings, writing essays or preparing for a test.
6. Work & Play – Aids Decision Making
Post nap, the brain experiences a rush of energy and an enhanced feeling of clarity. Not only can this be extremely useful for academic work, but it could also be of benefit for the other, broader decisions facing college students. Poor decision making need not be a cornerstone of the college experience, and napping can help you live a less regretful life.
7. Essay Writing – Enhances Creativity
Studies have shown naps to boost creative thinking and problem solving, and this sort of “thinking outside the box” can be really handy when struggling with an essay or project. Creativity (particularly in terms of thinking) can also help with life outside of college, too.
8. Lessens Stress
Naps increase production of a hormone called norepinephrine which tempers the effect stress has on the physical body, particularly on blood pressure and heart rate. As college is without doubt an extremely stressful time, anything that can be done to lessen stress is surely of benefit – particularly if it betters bodily health in the long run, too.
9. Betters Nighttime Sleeping
Poor “sleep hygiene” and an erratic schedule is something many students inflict upon themselves, and regulated napping can help get sleeping under control. The human body is prone to tiredness in the mid-afternoon, and this can’t be avoided by skipping lunch. However, by staying with the natural body clock, you’ll feel refreshed post-nap and sleep better during the night – particularly compared to those who drink coffee instead.
10. Helps You Avoid The Freshman Fifteen
One of the side effects of sleepiness is to try to boost energy by eating. But after the initial energy rush wears off, you’re likely just as tired as you were before, alongside feeling bloated or nauseous. By getting enough sleep as and when you need it, you’re much less likely to reach for an unhealthy, sugary or fatty snack.
11. Boosts Immune Systems
Sleep deprivation can have a hugely negative effect on the immune system. Colleges are also a hotbed of germs, as students come from all across the country and don’t necessarily live and hygienically as they could. Napping can help counter this by boosting immune-regulating molecule called interleukin-6 within the body. Less colds and illnesses means less time off college, and this is a massive boon for productivity.
12. Gets You The Hours Of Sleep You Need
Although you may feel like an adult, if you’re a freshman and sophomore whose age ends in “teen,” you are likely to still need up to ten hours sleep a night, rather than the adult recommended seven or eight. So the likelihood is, by treating one’s body and brain as fully developed, you’re highly likely to be suffering from sleep deprivation.
13. Helps You Survive All Nighters
Although working through the night is best avoided, sometimes things pile up and one can’t be avoided. If you know that such a necessary cramming session is coming up, consider an afternoon nap beforehand. It can help enhance your concentration for up to ten hours afterwards, meaning the work you do in the late (or early) hours will seem easier and be of a generally higher standard. Plus, mood, concentration and alertness will be heightened.
14. Heightens Your Party Prowess
Alongside the all-important studying, college is a great time to socialize and meet people. After a week of consistent mild sleep deprivation, alcoholic drinks will affect you twice as hard, meaning shorter nights and worse hangovers. So a pre-party nap is a perfect way to maximize enjoyment while minimizing the downsides.