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How to Optimize Your Naps in College

There’s something about getting back from class and crashing in your TwinXL dorm bed that just creates the optimized nap environment. I am huge proponent of napping—why sleep when you’re dead when you can sleep after Econ? But there’s definitely some ways to make the most of your post-class naps that I wish I had known three years ago. I could give you a bunch of scientific research about shortening your naps and not sleeping after 4:00pm, but I’ve never followed any of that advice and you probably won’t either.

Instead, I’ve compiled my personal tips for optimizing naps—and I consider myself a bit of an expert.

1.  Put on comfy clothes

Even if you’re going to have to get redressed, putting on something comfortable just for the time your napping will feel so much better. Getting into the nap mindset will let you settle down way quicker. Plus, getting redressed if you have somewhere to go will get you moving and out of a groggy fog when you wake up.

2.  Leave a light on

A completely dark room will easily take you out of nap territory and right into a 3 hour hibernation. Close your blinds, but keep a little bit of light on (I suggest something like a desk lamp. It helps stop you from falling too deep into sleep while maintaining a cozy ambience.

3.  Set your timer 3-5 minutes longer than you intend to nap

When I set the timer for exactly how long I want to nap, I find myself trying to force myself to sleep, which in turn keeps me awake longer. 3-5 extra minutes on the timer creates a ‘cushion’ to settle in and doze off.  It seems counter-intuitive, but I’ve found that it creates a better mental environment for my nap.

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    4.  Put your timer far away

    The biggest problem I have napping is snoozing my alarm. I start out my nap fully intending to sleep for just 30 minutes, but when that alarm goes off, my groggy mind make it way easier to justify another 10 minutes… then another 20… and then all of a sudden it’s 10:00 pm, the dining hall is closed, and none of your homework is done. Making yourself stand up to turn off your alarm gets you out of bed and moving, so you’ll have enough time to remember why your nap had a time limit in the first place.

    5.  Drink a cup of coffee right before a (quick) nap

    This one only works if it’s going to be a short nap, but having some caffeine right before falling asleep is a game changer. Caffeine takes about 20 minutes to kick in, so if you can get the timing right the caffeine should help you wake up, and you’ll get all the energy benefits of both the nap and the caffeine. If you’re planning on using any of these tips, it should be this one.

    In conclusion...

    Did I base these tips on personal anecdotes? Yes, mostly. Do they work? Yes. Mostly.

    Just trust me, ok? I even wrote a whole article about being a nightowl, so believe me when I say I take sleep seriously. Happy napping!

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