Should students be conscious about their napping habits?

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By Kayla Roberts

   Napping plays a common role in the daily routines of many individuals, including UNLV students. Taking naps, whether they are short or long, can offer a mental refreshment and energy boosts through the day. Partaking in naps also brings about associated napping habits that are accompanied with their own existing drawbacks and benefits.

   When weighing the varied factors that both long and short naps provide, should students be more concerned about the potential tendencies they may face when indulging in napping?

   “I like taking naps because they help me feel reenergized throughout the day,” said Afagh Ghayour, a UNLV student majoring in computer science. “I’ve noticed that taking a quick nap during the day helps me feel more alert and ready to complete the remaining tasks of that day.”

   Ghayour, reflecting on her experience as an undergraduate student, says, “As a college student I find naps to be beneficial because not only does my body get to relax, but my mind also gets to take a break which helps me resume studying with a clear mind.”

   Napping is generally acknowledged as having beneficial effects towards individuals. As stated by Medical News Today, “In the most beneficial naps, a person will only go into the first and second stages of sleep. These stages are more superficial and can help a person feel refreshed without them needing to go into a deeper sleep.” As long as the nap is taken within a decent length of time, it is able to best serve its purpose of being an energy boost. 

   Jinyoung Kim, an associate professor at UNLV’s School of Nursing who conducts clinical research on sleep, shared her insights, “There is still ongoing debate regarding the effects of napping, but studies indicate that approximately one third of Americans choose to nap to feel refreshed and recharged in the middle of the day. Thus, it proves beneficial for some individuals.”

   She continued, “However, both timing and duration are critical factors when it comes to napping. The recommended optimal length for a nap is around 20 minutes, definitely less than 30 minutes, and the ideal timing is early afternoon, ideally before 2 to 3 p.m. It’s typically after lunch when we start to feel sluggish, experiencing a post-lunch slump, signaling our body’s need for rest or sleep.”

   Ideally, a nap is most effective when lasting a total of twenty minutes, but this may be found to also vary depending on the individual. As Medical News Today stated, “Although 20 minutes is the ideal nap length for most people, it can vary. A person may want to take a series of test naps of around 10-45 minutes to find their ideal nap length.” 

   Along with nap length, the timing of the nap is also important to consider because it may affect one’s overall night-time sleep schedule. As stated by the National Sleep Foundation, “Experts typically recommend that adults take naps eight or more hours before bedtime.”

   Common drawbacks regarding napping habits tend to be associated with its indications of possible underlying health concerns. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “ some studies have found that adults who take long naps during the day may be more likely to have conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and depression.” 

   The drawbacks towards napping tend to be more connected with naps that are of a longer length, as this habit might indicate a lack of night-time sleep among other factors that might concern one’s health.

  In regards to whether a longer nap may have impactful aspects, Kim shared, “In short, yes, it can disrupt our nighttime sleep. Our sleep is governed by two main systems: the circadian rhythm and sleep homeostasis.”

   Kim explained that the circadian rhythm functions as an internal biological clock which is regulated by the brain and controls a 24-hour rhythm of biological and physiological functions including the areas critical to initiating and maintaining quality sleep.

   She goes on to explain that sleep homeostasis refers to our body having a stronger urge for sleep when we stay awake longer. Kim expressed, “This sleep drive accumulates until we finally fall asleep, then decreases while we are asleep.”    

   Kim also shared, “Indulging in a lengthy nap during the day can partially satisfy our sleep drive, potentially diminishing our readiness for sleep at night. Consequently, taking a long nap may make it more difficult to fall asleep promptly at night.”

   While napping is generally inclined to offer beneficial aspects to individuals, it is important to still be considerate of the various factors involving napping habits in order to ensure that your next nap time session does more good than harm.

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