Mebust: Student health would benefit from designated campus nap spaces

Like many Geneseo students, I often walk out of class and think, “I really want to take a nap right now, but I am not walking all the way down the hill to my dorm.” Despite the stigma attached to napping, this is not a sign of laziness. Sleep deprivation is actually recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a national public health epidemic.

Geneseo should acknowledge this fact and provide us with more resources to make taking quick naps more convenient. Sleep deprivation can lead to a whole host of problems ranging from depression to obesity to reduced productivity. A 2011 Harvard Medical School study found that sleep-deprived employees cost United States companies $63.2 billion per year. On the other hand, a study of NASA pilots found that short naps improved performance by 34 percent and alertness by 54 percent. Twenty to 30 minute naps not only aid in the formation of memories, but boost creativity and critical thinking as well. All are benefits that would be desirable to those engaged in the process of education.

College students are generally of an age that requires seven to nine hours of sleep per night to function properly, but there are very few who meet that goal consistently. In a 2001 study, only 11 percent of college students reported good sleep quality, and that was before most college students had cell phones to bring into bed. Now, more than ever, college is a terrible environment for getting quality sleep.

To start, college students tend to have very irregular schedules. Students will miss sleep one night for a practice or rehearsal, then they might have to stay up to finish a paper or study for an exam. On weekends, students drink alcohol to unwind from a hectic week and often sleep in. Students are constantly surrounded by friends and peers, causing socialization to cut into precious sleeping time.

College is a very stressful time. Students often lose sleep worrying about important exams, the prospect of an uncertain future and drama with different friend groups. In addition, there are the institutional obstacles such as dorms heated way above the recommended sleeping temperature of 60-67 degrees, or a lack of options to nap in key areas of campus.

Many colleges have started to feature napping resources like nap rooms, cots, beanbag chairs and blankets. A recent graduate of Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business started a company called MetroNaps that makes sleeping pods, which are essentially recliner chairs that have a bubble-like structure that covers the upper body and blocks out sound and light. Google purchased a set of them for their office.

In addition to protecting student health, devoting resources to napping makes logistical sense for colleges. Allowing students a viable alternative to caffeine might mean fewer disposable coffee cups polluting the environment and the library.

Currently, the go-to places for napping on campus are the beanbag room on lowest floor of MacVittie College Union and the quiet section of Milne Library. Many students, however, won’t go to the Union just to take a nap if it means they’ll have to climb the hill again afterwards, and the quiet section doesn’t have a dark space or anywhere to lie down.

The best solution would be to devote a room somewhere in the library so that the powerhouse students of Geneseo won’t have to trek up a hill and leave studying to take the power naps we so clearly need.