Sleep – it’s a necessity we just can’t get enough of. And I mean this quite literally, as research from the annual ParticipACTION report on Physical Activity found that over a quarter of Canadian teens are sleep-deprived! The mantra of “I slept at 2!” has even become a point to bond over. Despite our pursuit for more sleep, sleep somehow ends up as a last priority, after the onslaught of school assignments, tests, and extracurriculars. So if you do happen to be sleep-deprived, how do you stay awake when the caffeine just doesn’t cut it? Well, allow me to introduce Power Napping!
If you’re feeling drowsy, a short nap gives your brain and body time to re-energize. Studies show that napping not only reduces stress, but also boosts alertness, learning, and memory. Here are some tips to make the most of your siesta:
Get comfortable – Power napping can happen anywhere. Try making use of bus commutes, library breaks, and lunches. You may like quiet environments, or prefer some ambient noise; just find a spot that works for you.
Midday to afternoon is prime-time – Try to finish napping by 4 or 5 p.m., so it won’t interfere with falling asleep later at night.
Set an alarm to prevent oversleeping! – 20 minute naps increase alertness and help with motor learning skills, including playing the piano and typing. 30-60 minutes of rest boosts memory and creativity, for tasks like memorizing vocabulary and solving creative problems. However, avoid oversleeping, as longer naps can increase grogginess!
Find a dim environment – Either find a dark room or use a sleeping mask; sleeping in the dark helps produce melatonin, a hormone that promotes quality sleep.
Soothing sounds – Relaxing music or a boring podcast can help you get into your snooze.
Stay warm – Have a blanket or sweater on hand; your body temperature drops when you sleep.
Consistency is key – Develop a napping schedule, and stick to it.
Napping won’t be able to completely substitute your daily 8 to 10 hours of sleep, but it is an effective temporary solution. The balance of academics to social life to sleep is a big topic to tackle – I could go on about the factors which contribute to the average student’s struggle of maintaining good grades, having friends, and simultaneously sleeping 8 hours a day – but that’s a subject for another blog post. In the meantime, take a break every once in a while, and power nap!