Remember nap time in kindergarten? Back then it may have been hard to lie still. But right now, a nap sounds a lot like luxury.
But napping is kid stuff, right? And you are way too busy. Whether you're a student or an educator, your life is probably already over-scheduled, every day.
Let’s imagine for a minute that part of your busy schedule included Nap Time. It may not be as wacky as it sounds. The National Sleep Foundation says that, "a short nap of 20-30 minutes can help to improve mood, alertness and performance." And they cite the names of some pretty productive people who were reportedly nappers: Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein.
Conversely, the American Academy of Pediatrics warned that chronic sleepiness among teens poses a serious threat to teens’ academic success, health, and safety. They even consider it a public health risk!
Students + Sleep = Better Grades?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 8-10 hours per night for high school students. Yet, the Nationwide Children's Organization tells us that teenagers only average 7–7¼ hours per night. Homework, sports, after-school activities and an active social life (on and offline) push bedtime later. The next morning, school may start as early as 7:00 a.m.
Lack of sleep impacts both teens and adults in multiple ways, negatively affecting mood, behavior, cognitive ability, and academic performance. The consequences become even more severe if the sleepy teen gets behind the wheel.
On the other hand, according to an article in Time, researchers at McGill University and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute found that students who had quality sleep performed better in math and languages. Reut Gruber, lead author of the study said, "For math and languages, we need to use the skills that are called 'executive functions'—things like working memory, planning, not being distracted. The hardware that supports those skills is in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, which is very sensitive to the effects of poor sleep or insufficient sleep."
A report from The Wall Street Journal cited a study in Japan a decade ago, where one high school implemented midday nap-time for students, resulting in a "dramatic rise in test scores." Harvey B. Simon, M.D., the Editor of Harvard Health, writes: "even a brief nap may boost learning, memory, and creative problem solving."
Sleep Pods in High School
So, would nap time produce better students? An associate professor at New Mexico State University named Linda Summers bets the answer is yes. She wrote a federal grant that awarded her college $128,000 to buy "sleep pods," which cost $14,000 each. The university donated these pods to local area high schools.
U.S. News.com describes these pods, saying they "generally feature a one-touch start button which activates a relaxing sequence of music and soothing lights. Some have headphones for nappers to wear. At the end of 20 minutes, the pod begins to vibrate gently and an up-tempo beat gradually starts playing to wake the student."
According to the article, in a study of 100 students using the pods, 99 of them returned to class "with tremendous increases in energy and mood." The nap even helped calm down agitated students who had been involved in fights. The pods have also been used for teachers who are experiencing headaches or high blood pressure.
Napping – Pro or Con?
Where do you fall on this issue? Would you like to see sanctioned nap times implemented at your school? Tell us what you think, in our COMMENTS section below!