Since switching my major to psychology, I learned many invaluable lessons from the textbooks of my classes, but none more so than lessons about sleep, the most important of our daily tasks.
We know sleep is important, but we don't really know why we sleep. Science is just now starting to crack the deep ocean of sleep knowledge, and implementing the things we know so far can change our lives.
We know that sleep appears to be more important to our survival than eating food. In a rather gruesome series of Italian experiments on dogs in the turn of the twentieth century, a time without research ethics, scientists deprived dogs of sleep (Bentivoglio, 1997). What the scientists discovered was that the dogs who were deprived of both sleep and food survived longer than dogs who were deprived only of sleep and were given unrestricted access to food (19 days compared with 12 days, respectively). The key lesson I gather from this experiment is that if I feel tired and need some energy, sleeping is more efficient than eating.
So here is a little theory I propose: If a wave of fatigue washes over us while we are on campus, we should take a short 20-30 minute nap instead of consuming high-sugar foods to replenish our energy reserves. Such a course of action can replace diets by helping us to lose or maintain our weight and body image. And this may be crucial, because as many as 20% of college students experience disordered eating of some type, and about 74% of normal-weight females report being unhappy with their weight or appearance (Body Image, Georgetown).
But where do we take a mid-day nap? If you live on campus, you can do to your dorm. But 80% of us live off campus (US News). So what do we do?
Here is another idea I propose: that the University of Arizona designate rooms specifically for student napping. According to Sleep.org, only 20-30 minutes are necessary to get the full benefits of napping, such as improved alertness, enhanced performance, and better mood. Such an idea is not at all far-fetched. Most of us have heard about the Google Sleeping Pods, and Google is one of the most powerful companies in the world. Not only that, we actually use the term 'Google' when we are talking about researching something online. But back to on-campus napping: if Google does it, so should our university.
Just think about this: a healthier, fitter, happier, warmer, friendlier, smarter campus community. You, your friends, strangers – living life at near optimal performance. As a college student floating across the mysterious world of opportunity, what could be better than that?
The National Institutes of Health states that college students are one of the most sleep-deprived populations. Only 11% of us report getting good sleep. In my opinion, this is ridiculous, but we cannot point fingers only at our academic institution. We must take matters into our own hands. If we want nap rooms, we must demand that our tuition dollars go towards our nap rooms.
We must also change our own habits to promote positive sleep hygiene. In my next article, I will share two important and easy tips to increase your sleep quality and perhaps change your life forever.