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One Step at a Time: Naps on naps on naps

Fitness columnist Abbie Wenthe on the beauty of naps

By Abbie Wenthe | Nov. 5, 2012

Tags: fitness

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Coming in as a freshman last year, I wasn’t big into naps. I took them occasionally in high school when I had time after a morning swim practice or during a long weekend meet, but I never had a lot of extra time, so sleeping was mainly reserved for the dark hours of the night. However, this completely changed when I came to college.

My freshman year, naps became the very essence of my being and what I looked forward to the most besides the weekend. Nothing made me happier than being able to curl up on the zebra futon in my dorm room with a fuzzy Mizzou blanket and comfy pillows and drift off until my alarm rudely woke me up. My naps were more frequent and happened at the worst times while I had mono. But once I got over that feeling of wanting to sleep every hour of the day, my naps began to occur mainly in the afternoon or during the morning after my 8 a.m. honors econ class, which was the worst form of torture.

I always took naps in the comfort and safety of my dorm room, but I knew of many people who utilize the many areas on campus, equipped with comfy chairs and couches, perfect for a between-class nap. I was always too afraid to use these areas, because I didn’t want to be that girl sprawled across the couch with her mouth hanging open and drool running down the side of her face. For some weird reason, I just don't think it'll bring all the boys to the yard.

However, earlier this week I was dying in my 8 a.m. organic chemistry lecture. It was all I could do to keep my eyes open, let alone even try and comprehend base-catalyzed dimerization. My roommate and another guy next to me were in even worse condition than me, as they sat full on head-bobbing and slumping over in their chairs. After class, my roommate usually goes and sleeps until her next class while I go to Memorial Union and do homework. This time there was no way any homework was getting done, so I went with her to her typical nap spot. Upstairs in the south end of Memorial is a lounge area with relaxing couches and chairs and a plush cushion on a window seat.

My roommate immediately laid down on the window seat, set her alarm and got right to sleep. I was a little hesitant to follow her lead since there were two guys reading the paper on the chairs nearby, but my sleep deprivation took hold and I gave in. Surprisingly, it was an amazing nap. I woke up with a stiff arm from it being curled awkwardly around my head like a pillow and a nice red mark on the side of my face from my watch, but I was able to carry on feeling more refreshed and ready for the rest of my day.

I used to feel bad about taking naps and thought I was wasting time I could be using for studying until I read "Colleges open their eyes: ZZZs are key to GPA” by Justin Pope of the Associated Press. This article is all about how colleges across the country are giving students earplugs, sleep shades, napping lessons, maps for the best nap spots on campus and other tools all about napping. Apparently studies have linked anxiety, depression, health problems and academic troubles to sleep deprivation. Most students are only getting around six hours of sleep a night when nine is essential for our bodies to function properly.

Instead of pulling all-nighters and drinking large amounts of caffeine, only to crash later, try choosing a 30-minute nap over a Venti coffee when you need to rejuvenate. As hard as this may be, it is ideal to wake up at around the same time every day to get the body in sync and in rhythm so those annoying droopy eyes and tired feelings won’t linger. And in all honesty, naps on campus are the best thing ever. Don’t be afraid of doing something embarrassing while sleeping. Chances are, there will be other people around sleeping, as well, and if someone is creepy enough to watch you sleep, then I am extremely worried for them and their lack of hobbies.

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