Readers’ Forum: Naps are not only for toddlers

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Taking a nap can have many positive impacts on your day. Taking a nap will not only improve your productivity but your overall health as well. (Pixabay/Rhonda Jenkins)

The sun is high in the sky. You finish the remains of your peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and slowly the dreaded hour of the day approaches. It is hard to say whether it is your full stomach, your monotone teacher or just the room’s lighting. Whatever it is, the mental battle begins. Your body begs you to sleep, as your mind pleads for you to focus. As class ends, you try to remember what the topic of the lecture was.

You are not alone. The average person, and that includes BYU students, feel most tired in the afternoon, soon after lunch. So what do we do about this afternoon slump? What if taking just 15 minutes out of your schedule could make you become twice as productive? Would you do it? The truth is, we need a nap. Naps may seem like the lazy and inconvenient solution to our problem, but taking naps is crucial for student success.

For many students, the afternoon slump is an unproductive hour whether they are in class or just trying to work on homework. Our minds struggle to focus and our cognitive thinking decreases. We each have selective attention, meaning our minds only take in what is most needed. As we approach the dip in our circadian rhythm, or energy, our selective attention decreases and we intake less and less information. This affects our comprehension as we read and listen.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “relaxation, reduced fatigue, increased alertness, improved mood, improved performance, quicker reaction time and better memory” are just a few of the benefits of taking a short nap. The most effective naps are 10–20 minutes long. Any longer than that and you will wake up feeling groggy. Throughout this summer and current semester, I have taken many naps to test this theory. The most surprising result was when I set a 12-minute timer and woke up after 10 minutes. I felt so rested I was pretty confident I had overslept my alarm. 

Many of you probably do not take naps, or at least not enough naps. You may think of them as a waste of time, but are they really? The improvement in energy, memorization and even mood can make up all the difference from the short time spent napping. Sure, taking naps might not be for everyone … but have you tried it?

Stephen Crawford

Rexburg, Idaho

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