Of High School Naps

You stayed up late the night before finishing a project. Now you’re sitting in class, and try as you will, you cannot possibly focus on the lecture. Remember when there was a portion of every day dedicated to nap-time in kindergarten? You probably had trouble shutting your eyes then. Now, when you lift your sleepy head from your desk, teachers freely share their wisdom: “I read that teenagers should sleep at least eight hours a night.

Get off Twitter.” Then they hand out three-hour assignments. Students are given so much homework to complete and tests to study for, that going to bed at midnight is not uncommon, especially when sports, clubs, and work are added into the mix. And if you’re one of those elusive scholarly students who doesn’t need to study to get straight A’s and can manage his time and anxiety without ingesting nearly toxic levels of coffee and/or giving up the recommended eight hours of sleep per night… shh, go home.

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I’ve heard numerous times from my peers that nap-time during school should be mandatory. However, the school board is much more interested in raising standardized test scores. What the board members probably don’t realize is that sleep is directly correlated to attention span, and without adequate sleep, or at least a guaranteed mid-day break, the vast quantity of knowledge being ceaselessly crammed into our heads isn’t going to stick. No matter what our society dictates, high-schoolers need sleep much more than kindergarteners. I mean, when was the last time you saw a six-year old with bags under his or her eyes, dragging his or her little feet? If you did, you’d probably call the authorities.

But with high-schoolers? You’d be shocked if a third of the school didn’t look like zombies. Typically, after posing a question to a room full of blankly staring teenagers, a teacher waits several moments for a response. He or she then shrugs and makes an obvious and almost completely unrelated disclaimer: “It’s Monday”; “It’s Friday”; “It’s first period”; “It’s long period”; or, “It’s last period.” These teachers are kind enough to have excuses for why their students, who might as well be absent, are so tired. If all high school students had a mandatory nap time built into the daily schedule, like a flex period, teachers would enjoy a more attentive, relaxed class and students would benefit from better focus for the lesson and improved readiness for homework and tests.

I can see a half an hour being reserved for nap time every day. That’s just five short minutes cut from each class—the time it takes to settle down or pack up or chat at the end of the period anyway. Students would rest on fold-out army cots conveniently stored in every advisory room. At the end of this well-spent half hour, every student in the school would be revived and ready to tackle his or her next class. Naps won’t cure everything. You will still have to finish that project and occasionally stay up until unmentionable hours of the night—err, maybe morning—and participate in school the next day.

But instead of day-dreaming about how nice it’d be to be back in kindergarten, you can skip the runny noses and counting blocks, but still take a much needed mid-day nap.