Originally created 09/19/06

Student nap time might help boost test scores, productivity



Lack of sleep is accepted as a part of high school. We've all seen our classmates fall asleep during a history lecture or video.

The problem is that students are forced to stay up most of the night finishing projects and papers or studying for their tests the next day.

Some argue that if teenagers would manage their time better, they could sleep enough at night, but with the competitiveness of students and the many activities they are involved in, they don't have a lot of time left.

Merry Ma, 16, a junior at Lakeside High School, knows a little about the time crunch students find themselves in.

"Due to the overwhelming amount of homework and school-related activities, I often get less than five hours of sleep every night," she said. "I believe that students would be happier and healthier if teachers could spare 30 minutes a day for study hall and/or nap time."

I remember thinking, from as early as third grade, how nice it would be to go back to afternoon naps like in kindergarten.

Studies show that teens should get eight or nine hours of sleep each night, but who is actually sleeping that much? I only get five or six hours a night (and that's a lot compared with most of my friends) and I still sometimes fall asleep during classes.

The easiest way, and more healthful than caffeine, to overcome tiredness during the day is to take naps - not an hour nap but a quick, 20-minute "power nap," which has been proven to help people feel more awake and mentally alert.

Power naps are the latest craze in Japan, according to a report in the Washington Post. At Meizen High School, there is a designated nap time where teachers dim the lights and put on classical music. The school said it saw a large increase in test scores because of the sleep sessions, and other schools are following suit. There also are nap salons, where adults can go during their lunch break to rent a day bed and sleep for up to 30 minutes. Napping is such a huge fad in Japan that most stores offer a "desk pillow" for a convenient lunchtime snooze.

Taking naps in school is a great idea that American schools should adopt, and I don't say that just as someone who would benefit from them.

When a teacher here sees a student sleeping, the student is immediately awakened. The student then spends the rest of the class period trying to keep himself from falling asleep instead of comprehending anything the teacher is trying to explain. Wouldn't he learn more if his school designated 15 minutes during the day to let sleepyheads rest so that they could be fresh and ready to absorb all the knowledge thrown at them?

Students are tired when they get to school and until something addresses student exhaustion, they will be left counting the days until the weekend when they can finally sleep.

Aarthi Murugappan, 16, is a junior at Lakeside High School.