Treat Yo Self! Take a Nap!

There’s no better feeling than hitting the snooze button. Every college student knows how precious those extra few minutes of sleep are. Despite having to rush out the door to class, sleep is important. Most students are up late studying, doing homework, partying, and watching cat videos at 2 a.m. Whatever the reason may be, it keeps them from getting that recommended 6-8 hours of sleep. That’s where naps come in. While they don’t replace sleeping at night, they do have many health benefits that can keep you up and ready to go.

  •  Refreshes Your Mind

Taking naps can refresh the brain, making it easier to learn new information later. Although a good night’s sleep is crucial to storing knowledge learned earlier in the day, a new study finds that getting some shut-eye before you learn is important too. According to a study by Matthew Walker, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, he found that “It’s simply not enough to sleep after learning. It turns out you also need to sleep before learning.” Walter also explained that a 90-minute nap may help lock in long-term memories. His studies suggested that there is a close link between the learning boost and napping.

  • Helps You Learn Better

Trying to cram for that big test the next morning? Rethink that decision. You’ll have trouble remembering anything you’ve tried to learn during the day (or night). When you sleep, "a part of the brain called the hippocampus replays what you’ve learned while you were awake" according to Dr. Charles Czeisler, chairman of the board of the National Sleep Foundation and chief of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Czeisler explained, “This helps you encode those things you’ve learned into your long-term memory." Czeisler told Buzzfeed, "No sleep, no long-term memory of those lessons.” Among many downsides from pulling the all-nighter, do your brain a favor and get some rest instead.

  •  Fights Grogginess

Naturally, during the day your body gets tired. It’s most common to feel this effect from 2-4 a.m. and between 1-3 p.m. If possible, these are the best times to give in to that feeling and take a nap. It's early enough to not mess with your nighttime sleeping schedule, so sleep away!

  • Helps You Feel More Awake and Refreshed

60-minute nap improves alertness for 10 hours. However naps over 45 minutes you risk what’s known as “sleep inertia,” which is that groggy feeling that may last for half an hour or more. To help combat that feeling, Dr. Sara C. Mednick, sleep expert and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life, explains, “You can get incredible benefits from 15 to 20 minutes of napping,” and “You can reset the system and get a burst of alertness and increased motor performance. That’s what most people really need to stave off sleepiness and get an energy boost." So, depending on what you feel your body needs most, a power nap is usually the best way to go to get through the day.

  • Helps You Relax and Unwind

Even if you can’t fall asleep for a nap, just laying down and resting has benefits. Studies have found that resting can result in lowered blood pressure. Give your mind a chance to relax and process what you have experienced throughout the day so far.

  •  Can Save Your Life

You will notice that with a lack of sleep comes a lack of judgment. According to Buzzfeed, when your brain becomes less efficient burning energy, which your brain does naturally, it can have a huge impact on your prefrontal cortex, A.K.A, your smart decision making and good judgment. When it stops working well, your ability to make those smart choices gets compromised. You could also suffer from a “sleep attack,” where your brain forces you to pass out in spite of your every intention not to – which can be deadly. During the day, your brain burns off energy, and a molecule called adenosine gets left behind. As these levels build up, it sends a stronger and stronger signal to the brain that you need sleep. Once it hits critical levels, it can trigger a switch in the brain that you need to sleep immediately and involuntarily. Dr. Charles Czeisler says “it’s almost like fainting, but it’s an involuntary sleep attack,” which can be deadly if you’re doing something like driving which can kill yourself or others. More importantly, “if you have been awake for 24 hours, your performance is as impaired as if you were legally drunk and had a 0.1 BAC” Czesiler continued.

  • Reduces Stress, Anxiety, and Much More

Apart from the many benefits of napping, research shows longer naps help “boost memory and enhance creativity. Slow-wave sleep -- napping for approximately 30 to 60 minutes -- is good for decision-making skills, such as memorizing vocabulary or recalling directions.” There is also research showing that napping regularly may reduce stress and even go as far as reduce your risk of heart disease.

  • Helps You Lose Weight

Everyone has at least heard of the unfortunate “freshman 15” but many experiences it first-hand. Research shows that women who sleep for at least “five hours at night are 32% more likely to experience major weight gain than those who sleep seven hours." When you’re exhausted from a lack of sleep, your judgment gets impaired greatly which means you're less likely to make healthier choices and that trip to McDonald's sounds much more appealing. Studies have found with less sleep you’re less likely to burn fewer calories, crave more, and snack/eat more. A lack of sleep lowers levels of a hormone called leptin which is the one that says “I’m full; put the fork down.” These levels are higher at night, which tells your body that it has enough energy and it can sleep, and they are lower during the day, so this tells your body to eat to gain more energy. Logically, without sleep your leptin levels are low, resulting in a growling stomach.

  • Reduces Risk Of Disrupting Sleep

One important thing to remember before dozing off is to check the time. If your nap is at least 5 hours before bedtime, go for it. Otherwise, you risk disrupting your sleeping schedule at night. It’s found that the best hour for most people to nap is between 2 and 3 pm which is that tired period when “you’ve already eaten lunch and your blood sugar and energy levels will naturally start to dip”. So go ahead, get cozy, and catch some z’s.

  • Helps Mental Functions (But Doesn't Replace Regular Sleep)

Although napping does and should not replace your precious beauty sleep at night, it can help improve a lot of mental abilities. The Sleep Foundation explains, “the bottom line is that there is no real way to recoup lost sleep.” That’s why trying to create a set sleeping schedule is extremely important. Missing sleep between the ages of 18 to 24 impairs performance more significantly than in any other age brackets.

  • Helps To Set Multiple Alarms 

Napping is great, but don't forget to make sure that you wake up on time! There’s nothing worse than missing class due to oversleeping. Setting multiple alarms typically combats that deep sleep that keeps you from hearing the alarm. It also ensures you will get up and going on time instead of running out the door late. Additionally, setting multiple alarms keeps you from oversleeping during a nap. Remember, short naps will result in less grogginess.

There is a lot of research behind the amazing benefits of napping. Especially in college, taking advantage of getting some shut-eye can be extremely helpful when studying for tests, remembering information, and so much more. So, go ahead, press that snooze button one more time.