When I was in kindergarten, just like many other children of my generation, nap time was seen as a priority. Each day throughout my kindergarten year, my teacher set-aside approximately 15 minutes for napping, during which we got out our mats, dimmed the lights, and rested our eyes and brains. Of course, at this age, I always dreaded this part of the day, because I had so much energy and would have much rather preferred 15 extra minutes on the playground. I usually just laid there quietly and watched the fish swim around in our classroom fish tank. However, even though I usually didn’t nap, I still enjoyed this break from schoolwork and I always felt more refreshed for the day. As I advanced into higher grades, even in elementary school, the privilege of nap time slowly started disappearing, and I found myself longing for it back.
There is countless research suggesting the benefits of taking a “power nap,” or short 15-20 minute nap, sometime during the day. It is obvious that a short nap sometime during the day is bound to help people feel more awake and mentally alert, so why are naps no longer a priority in elementary school, and how come they never became a priority in middle or high school?
According to the Washington post, power naps are becoming the latest craze in Japan. The article (found here) explains that even in high school, many teachers set aside a designated time in each day where they dim the lights and put on classical music for students to take a short nap.These naps proved to be beneficial, as the school show a large increase in test scores, and other schools in Japan soon started adopting this technique. The most fascinating part of this story is that the naps didn’t stop in high school; there were also designated nap salons created, where adults could go during the day to sleep for 30 minutes or so during a lunch break, and some stores even offered a “desk pillow” so workers could sleep at their desk. These naps were proven to increase productivity without taking up too much valuable time during the work day.
Many would argue that Japan is a productive and successful nation, so why shouldn’t America follow in their footsteps and adopt nap times not only in grade school, but also in adulthood. We all know that there are some days where we stayed up too late and are struggling to make it through the day. Generally on these days, we result to drinking large amounts of caffeine to make it through, and this all too often leads to a hard crash at the end of the day. If we could take a short 15-20 minute nap, without reprimand, it would suffice as a healthy supplement to large amounts of caffeine and increase productivity.
This short clip by Dr. Oz provides a great explanation for why these short naps are beneficial and actually better than longer naps, and he even provides a few helpful tips for how to better our napping experiences.