Napping – The Quilted Secret of Efficiency
By Isaac Davis
College life is governed by time, and the question on all our minds is how can we spend more of this time doing what we want? Solutions often come in the form of self-pity (“if only I was smarter…”), illegality (“perhaps if I buy some Adderall…”), or simply compromise (“Well I got an F in my essay but I did manage to see…”). But what if I told you that there was a free, legal and cosy solution inside your very dorm room? Well, there is, and it’s a little thing called napping – it doesn’t just have to be when you’re ill!
Think back to the last time you heard someone say they read for 4 hours straight, undoubtedly these claims will be followed by an expression of great fatigue and hardship. Firstly is this the way you want to spend Sunday night? Secondly how efficiently can you work in this sleep deprived state, should it really have taken 4 hours? A recent study at NASA on sleepy military pilots and astronauts found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34% and alertness 100%. At Roanoke, chances are we aren’t practicing high-speed aeronautical maneuvers or completing computer simulated moon landings, but the science still stands, we don’t work well when sleep deprived. There is no need to limit yourself to just nocturnal sleeping, in fact it makes sense that we break things up a bit. If you look at our dietary needs they are not all met in one glutinous sitting or by chugging half a gallon of water in one go – why should we approach sleep any differently?
That said, in the case of napping you can have too much of a good thing. A certain awareness must be engaged as a precaution. In our quest for efficiency we must not compromise sleeping patterns or incur the dreaded “grogginess.” But do not be perturbed. Experience has provided me with a simple, and easily implementable, series of questions to be answered:
- What time is it?
As a napper you must always factor in bed-time proximity.
- How efficiently am I currently working?
A nap (unless for purely recreational use) should not be taken where unnecessary.
- Is it suitable?
Here we’re discussing location and social context. Although the temptation is there that Monday 8:30 it isn’t the place to nap – even if the intent was to boost your own efficiency! If you are in your dorm consider roommates: Can you turn the light off at this time? Are they too loud for you to have an effective nap? Use your own discretion here remembering you are napping ultimately to save time.
- How long do I need?
Napping is an individual experience to a large extent. At this stage you must factor in what you have to do, your fatigue levels, and your own susceptibility to grogginess. I find that optimum duration can range anything from 3 minutes up to an exceeding the 5 hour mark.
By practicing these procedures napping can prepare you for challenges, help to streamline your performance and lead you toward your potential. Sometimes it is best simply to take a step back and sleep on things.