COLUMN: Get your nap on

Marianne Hale

Dresses with pockets and bright tights with short boots, classic rock music and visiting drive-thrus, white chocolate pretzels and afternoon napping – these are a few of my favorite things.

And while most of these things can easily fit into my daily life, napping, unfortunately, often times cannot.

So, this week, I set out to answer this question: How can a college student make the most of their naps?

Local sleep specialists held the answer to making all my dreams of sweet dreams come true.

Walter Warren, who specializes in sleep medicine at the The Medical Center at Bowling Green Sleep Center and Tuyen Trinh, a sleep technician at Greenview Regional Hospital, told me that when it comes to napping, it’s quality, not quantity that matters.

Both recommended taking short power naps in the middle of the day.

Warren said naps should last between 20 to 25 minutes, because 5 to 10 minutes just won’t do, and long naps aren’t really conducive to productivity.

Trinh added that having marathon nap sessions will actually make you feel more sluggish or worse than you would have had you not taken a nap at all. So short power naps are the way to go when you’re looking for a little midday rejuvenation.

Taking long naps or sleeping away a good part of your weekends are also indicators that you’re not getting enough sleep, Warren said.

My naps generally fall somewhere in the 20-minute range, so naturally, I was ready to name myself the power napping princess. I already had a handle on this whole napping business, right? Wrong.

There are a few things about successful napping that I didn’t know.

For example, Warren said that somewhere between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. is a good naptime because people have a natural tendency to want sleep then. It has something to do with the rhythm of chemicals in your brain, in case you were wondering, and it’s the same reason 11 p.m. is a good bedtime. (Let me know if you know any college students who are in bed at 11, by the way.)

One napping no-no I’ve committed is cuddling up with my cell phone during my slumber sessions. I’m pretty married to the thing, and the nature of being an editor makes it fairly necessary to keep it on all the time.

But, as Warren advises, you should turn off the cell phone if you’re really committed to a successful siesta.

If you have to, let the people who might need to contact you know that there will be a 20-minute interval during the day that you won’t be available. Whether or not you choose to tell them that it’s because you need a little nappy is your prerogative.

Also, Trinh said you should be sure to choose a dimly lit room where you won’t be interrupted for your napping space.

My house on Old Morgantown Road, for example, probably isn’t the best place to take a nap considering the constant construction that’s happening right outside my bedroom window. Maybe you’ll have better luck finding a napping space, though.

If you would like to monitor your sleep habits and you have an iPhone or Android phone, you can download a sleep diary application that helps you track and analyze your sleep, Warren said.

Alas, I think it’s time for me to put this column to bed. Until we meet again, happy napping.