Should Students Take Naps?

Have a look at this infographic and see if you can be persuaded to take a nap- it’s not just good for students!

Should Students Take Naps? Click image to view PDF

Click image to view PDF or read below.

Do you think you can fit naps into your daily life? Let me know why/not!

Sleep deprivation symptoms include: slower reaction times, lower IQ, less creativity, worse problem solving skills, irritability, depression, overeating [1, 2, 4, 6, 9].

Students are especially at risk for sleep deprivation: they often have flexible schedules so there is not one fixed time to get up in the morning.  Social activities can take up a lot of time, and the university workload is bigger than in high school [2].

Most people fall asleep within 5-10 minutes after going to bed at night. Due to hormonal changes, adolescents may need over 90 minutes [1, 2].

Naps have been shown to:

  • reduce anxiety
  • increase alertness
  • mediate the effects of sleep loss [5]

Can university students be persuaded to take naps? [3, 7]

A group of students was asked to take naps for one week. Before and after, they were tested on the amount of sleep deprivation symptoms. The data of 14 students was used, including a control group. After the experiment, qualitative interviews were held with a selection of participants.

Students who got a persuasive advice to nap, took more naps than a control group (purple box plot below). Also, on the test group had less sleep deprivation symptoms (green box plot). For information and results from the experiment, check out this Research Booklet.


Best nap practices [8]

• make nap times regular • look for a place that is not too busy and not too light • sit in a relaxed position/ lie down • cover yourself with a blanket/jacket • set a timer for 10-30 minutes • after napping, sit for a minute with your eyes open before you go back to work

Wishlist for a nap space

• dim light • fresh air • a view • lounge chairs • coffee machine • blankets and pillows • relative privacy • tables and chairs • noise cancelling headphones • auto eject after 30 minutes

Start small: even a pillow to sleep more comfortably on a table would help.

Fun fact: an effective way to nap seems to be as follows: drink a cup of coffee. It will take up to 30 minutes for the caffeine to take effect. Use that time to nap (still use a timer) and wake up extra refreshed! [10]

Check out this little Research Booklet with more detailed information about the setup and results of the research, as a prelude to the paper.

References:  [1] Andrade MM, Benedito-Silva A, Domenice S, Arnhold JP, Menna-Barreto L, Sleep characteristics of adolescents: A longitudinal study. Journal of Adolescent Health, Volume 14, Issue 5, July 1993, Pages 401–406.   [2] Bronson P, Merryman A, 2009 NurtureShock: why everything we think about children is wrong, p. 27-44. Ebury Press, 2009.   [3] Cialdini RB, Influence, How and why people agree to things. William Morrow &Co, New York 1984    [4] Dewald JF, Short MA, Gradisar M, Oort FJ, Meijer AM, The Chronic Sleep Reduction Questionnaire (CSRQ): a cross-cultural comparison and validation in Dutch and Australian adolescents. J Sleep Res. 2012 Oct;21(5):584-94. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2012.00999.x. Epub 2012 Feb 14   [5] Ficca G, Axelsson J, Mollicone DJ, Muto V, Vitiello MV. Naps, cognition and performance. Sleep Med Rev. 2010 Aug;14(4):249-58. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2009.09.005. Epub 2009 Dec 3.   [6] Gradisar M, Wright H, Robinson J, Paine S, Gamble A, Adolescent napping behavior: Comparisons of school week versus weekend sleep patterns. Article first published online: 10 JUL 2008. DOI: 10.1111/j.1479-8425.2008.00351.x   [7] Kaptein MC, Markopoulos P,  de Ruyter B, Aarts E, Persuasion in ambient intelligence. J Ambient Intell Human Comput (2010) 1:43–56 DOI 10.1007/s12652-009-0005-3   [8] Mednick S, Ehrman M, Take a Nap! Change Your Life [Paperback], Workman Publishing (26 Jan 2007)   [9] Meijer AM, Chronic sleep reduction, functioning at school and school achievement in preadolescents. Journal of Sleep Research, 2008,17: 395–405. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00677.x   [10] Reyner LA, Horne JA, Suppression of sleepiness in drivers: Combination of caffeine with a short nap. Psychophysiology, 1997, 34: 721–725. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.1997.tb02148.x

2 thoughts on “Should Students Take Naps?

  1. My mom told me that her mom would do a power nap. My grandma would sit down in the afternoon and say she was taking a nap, fall asleep immediately and wake up refreshed 10 minutes later. Now that I’m almost fifty with some major health problems if I take a nap I wake up hours later. I’m starting to think I’m getting narcolepsy – 2 weeks ago one of my sons gave me a cookie which I took a bite. The next thing I know another son wakes me up and I have a mushy cookie bite in my cheek and a cookie with one bite taken on my lap. – Gross — my boys thought it was hilarious.

    • What a great napper your grandma was. I don’t know how some people can wake up by themselves without an alarm! And 10 minutes is also an ideal duration since it provides lots of benefits and is not too long so it doesn’t influence nighttime sleep.
      Take care.

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