LIFESTYLES: How to use napping to your advantage

Photo: Meghan Findley
Taking a 20 to 30 minute nap is proven to make you feel refreshed and more alert。
Sleep well, live well

By Lindsey Sheen
Copy Editor/Spectator

Fall semester is coming to a close and students are studying for final exams while they wait impatiently for the holiday break. It can be stressful with papers, tests and projects being submitted all at once.

It is important to make sure to get those study breaks in. Grab a snack and also a quick power nap, if at all possible. Some may think that taking naps will make you more exhausted than you previously were; however, if you only nap for a short period of time, you should feel rejuvenated.

According to author and sleep expert, Sara C. Mednick, Ph.D, “You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping. You reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance.”

REM sleep, which stands for rapid eye movement, is the critical period of sleep. It’s the stage where dreaming takes place and usually happens after about 90 minutes of falling asleep and occurs about four to six times. Since it is best to get at least one cycle of REM sleep in during a nap, this is why people need to nap more frequently and quickly.

Brittany Kinkel states from a “Copy of Keep Dreaming” on Prezi.com that REM cycles differ in length from 5-10 minutes for the first REM period of the night to as long as 30-34 minutes later in the night. Therefore, it’s anticipated that dreams can be a half an hour or longer during one period of REM sleep.

REM sleep is crucial during nap times and can be hard to come across because it’s more of a deep sleep period.

There are ways this can be solved.

According to lifehack.org, “Each day try a different length of nap, reducing the time by 3-5 minutes and record your energy levels. As you learn to fall asleep quicker and close in on your optimal time, you’ll notice a remarkable thing: it’s possible to wake up from a nap totally refreshed and alert.”

This method is more plausible to make REM sleep a part of the nap schedule.

It’s very important to frequently nap throughout the week so you can feel more energized. Christina Brenckle, a senior at Edinboro says she naps twice a week, if she has time.

Another senior, Danielle DeBlasio says she tries to sleep on the days where she has a lot of classes so she doesn’t feel as tired, which is about two days a week.

Mayoclinic.org states, “The best time for a nap is usually mid-afternoon, around 2 or 3 p.m. This is the time of day when you might experience post-lunch sleepiness or a lower level of alertness.”

Most students have a problem with sleeping too long and feeling groggy. Lifehack.org suggests that, “If after a 30 minute nap you are exhausted, you may have gone right through REM into a deeper sleep phase. It will feel like being woken up in the middle of the night.” No one wants to feel like that after taking a nap.

So when you nap over these next couple of weeks, make sure you try to make it short and sweet so you feel refreshed and ready for the rest of the day.          

Lindsey Sheen is the copy editor for the Spectator. She can be reached by 814-732-2266