Who needs more sleep? I know I do! I’ve personally struggled with insomnia since I was an adolescent. And I’m not alone, according to the CDC, which indicates that over 35% of Americans report sleeping less than 7 hours of sleep a night. Of course, much of that may be related to the fast-paced society in which we live today. We simply don’t “unplug” enough. But that’s a post for another day.
I don’t think any of us would argue against the value of more sleep. After all, research overwhelmingly proves the negative consequences associated with lack of sleep. We know it’s bad for our health, compromising our immune systems. This WebMD article gives a total of 10 reasons to hate sleep loss, including effects like heart and blood pressure problems, increased risk of stroke, depression, and weight gain. And any one of us who’s suffered from insufficient sleep can tell you the resulting grogginess affects our performance at school and/or work. Our ability to pay attention suffers; it’s hard to concentrate. We move and think more slowly. So it’s not surprising to hear that sleep loss leads to forgetfulness and impaired judgment. Nor does it come as a big shock that not sleeping enough “dumbs us down.”
So when I read that Harvard is seriously considering establishing an official on-campus nap room, I thought, “Brilliant!” After all, any time I walk across campus, I see at least one student napping. They nap inside, outside, on the floor, on tables and desks, in the cafeteria, the classrooms, the library. They fall asleep anywhere and everywhere! Clearly, they’re not sleeping enough (certainly, some of that may be their own faults, but still…). And that’s going to impact their academic success. They get sick, stay home, miss important information. They can’t stay awake or alert during lectures and miss important information. They, in turn, struggle on assessments not only because they’ve missed important information but also because they just can’t think clearly or remember accurately. Further, we know that one of the keys to student success is active participation in the learning experience–and it’s hard to be active (physically or mentally!) on too little sleep.
And so I give the on-campus nap room a big ole thumbs-up: it’s a matter of student success!