Napping 101: Your Guide to a Mid-Afternoon Snooze

Photo by Steph Distasio

College students and toddlers aren’t all that different. In fact, the college crowd and little kids have one very important thing in common—we love to nap. Naps on a daily basis are essential to a functioning college campus. While Penn State is full of bright and shining individuals, many of these intelligent students don’t know that napping can be dangerous to their weekday sleep patterns.

Over-napping can make a person feel even more tired rather than feeling more alert and awake. Studies show that naps between 40 and 60 minutes actually make us more sleepy and worn out rather than rejuvenating us to keep going for the remainder of the day. When we fall asleep for these extended periods of time, our body falls into a deep sleep but not nearly long enough to experience a full sleep cycle.

Studies show that the optimal napping time is a total of 26 minutes. A 26-minute nap is shown to be the perfect amount of sleep that people need to feel more energized and awake without falling into a deep sleep cycle. Timed naps can improve performance of people in the workplace and in our case, in class. The National Transportation Safety Board did a study with NASA pilots and their productivity after a 26-minute nap. They found that this period of time increased performance by 34% and alertness by 54%.

By preventing ourselves, as college students, to over-nap and over-sleep during our mid-afternoon snoozes, we can become more productive. A 26-minute nap enhances our concentration and alertness as well as improves our motor skills. Napping has more scientific benefits than we are aware of.

While napping for toddlers is used to minimize their level of crankiness, Valley would argue that it does the same thing for college students. However, in addition to the reduction in crabby attitudes, napping can also make us better learners and listeners. Scientific studies also show that napping for certain periods of time can lead to different benefits depending  on the time asleep. On a broad scale, mini-mid day siestas are shown to enhance memory function, improve focus and productivity, increase our learning ability, boost creativity and better our emotional and procedural memory.

If you ask us, napping is starting to sound better and better as more data and results are revealed. To test out the 26-minute nap theory, there is an app called NAP26. It includes an audio program that uses pulsating beats to create sound vibration. These vibrations signal the brain to enter a more relaxed state. NAP26 wakes you after 26-minutes.

Let the power napping begin!

How did the 26-minute nap work for your busy schedule? Tell @ValleyMag about it on social media!