I’m involved in a musical, and we rehearse every night. Sometimes, I don’t get home until 11 p.m. I’m usually so exhausted that I go straight to sleep and wake up super early to finish my homework. Then I can barely keep my eyes open at school. Taking a midday nap (even a short one!) sounds like the perfect way to help me power through my classes.
I’m not the only one at my school who is part of the musical, so I know that some of my classmates must be experiencing the same problem. In fact, most kids do sports or other activities that, when combined with homework, prevent them from getting as much sleep as they should. I speak for all of us when I say having a place and time at school to recharge is a good solution to the problem of sleepy students.
There’s even research to back me up. According to a Nationwide Children’s Hospital study, the average high school student gets just seven hours of sleep a night—up to three hours less than is recommended. Lack of sleep can affect mental and physical health, as well as academic performance. It’s unlikely we’ll all find three extra hours to sleep each night, but the National Sleep Foundation says a 20- or 30-minute nap can improve mood and alertness by giving your brain a chance to re-energize. Napping at school, therefore, could help improve students’ grades.
If schools want to foster healthy behaviors, naps would help emphasize the importance of sleep. Students could learn to practice “good sleep hygiene”—daily routines that help you get a good night’s sleep.
Teachers and administrators might worry that napping would cut into the regular school schedule—but it wouldn’t have to. Naps could be restricted to a specific time of the day, like lunch, when students aren’t in class.
Schools should also consider that allowing naps could result in fewer students falling asleep during class. I’m guilty of it myself, and I worry that my teachers think I’m a slacker when I doze off. In reality, I work really hard, and I hate feeling so tired when I’m trying to learn. The mental boost a nap can provide is just what busy high school students like me need during the school day.