Why there should be nap time in High School

Fernanda Molina, Editor-in-Chief

I have seen many of my classmates fall asleep during a lecture in class. I’m sure you have too. It might have even been me, at some point.

A student reads a textbookAccording to a recent study, only 15% of teenagers get 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night, the recommended hours of sleep for the average person. As many students try to balance waking up early for school, completing homework, staying after school for activities, and going to sports practices late at night, sleep tends to fall at the bottom of their priority list.

Mason’s 30 minute Mustang Block gives students time to catch up with friends, see teachers for help, or finish up homework. This is a nice break in our seven hour school day, though this is not enough.

Schools should have 30 additional minutes of quiet, technology-free time each day in which students can nap or lay down to relax and just think.

Parents and teens have been warned that, not getting enough sleep can be unhealthy. Some argue that if teenagers would manage their time better, they could get enough sleep at night, but with the competitiveness of students and the many activities they are involved in, this usually isn’t a reasonable option. Sleep deprivation can have an effect on the performance of students in school and extracurriculars. A 15-minute power-nap has proven to help people feel awake and mentally alert.

In Japanese schools, the latest trend is to take 15-minute power naps after lunch, according to a report in the Washington Post. At Meizen High School in Kurume, Japan, there is a designated naptime where teachers dim the lights and put on classical music. Their school principal stated that the school saw increases in test scores because of these sleep sessions, and other schools might adopt the practice as well. Napping is so big in Japan that most stores sell “desk pillows” for a convenient lunchtime snooze.

“When we see people napping during lunchtime, we think, ‘They are getting ready to put 100 percent in during the afternoon,'” said Paul Nolasco, a Toyota spokesman in Tokyo. “Nobody frowns upon it. And no one hesitates to take one during lunchtime either.”

Several public schools in New Mexico are trying to tackle the problem of sleep deprivation by providing napping pods for their students, egg-shaped lounge chairs that recline and play classical music. Linda Summers, an associate professor at New Mexico State University’s school of nursing in Las Cruces, applied for a federal health grant to buy the nap pods and install them in four high schools in New Mexico. Whether the students use that time to completely fall asleep, or simply zone out, they will feel more relaxed and calm. With so much schoolwork and a packed schedule, people often do not get time to completely stop to think and sort things they need in their head.

A student sits in a nap pod
Hannah Vanderkooy trying out the nap pod used Las Cruces High School in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Las Cruces High School is one of four schools in the state that have adopted nap pods. (Photo Courtesy of Joe Suarez via National Public Radio)

Hannah Vanderkooy, a student at Las Cruces High School that tried the nap pod one day. “I came back and I was awake and attentive,” she said.

Even if our school does not buy nap pods, as long as Mason allows for their students to rest on their desks with some soothing music in the background, it would do a great deal to the student body’s peace of mind. Power naps in school are a great idea that should be adopted. All students – and teachers – would benefit. When a teacher sees a student sleeping, the student spends the rest of the class trying to keep their eyes open instead of understanding the material being taught in class. Wouldn’t that student learn more if the school allowed for 15 or 20 minutes of napping time during the day?  

Students are tired when they get to school. This affects their learning. This affects their mood. And until student exhaustion is addressed, they will be left counting the days until they can sleep on the weekend.