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September 2013

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Naps are healthy for you

Nap Nook
Reserve a bean bag in the Nap Nook at Festival for a 20-minute power nap.
Trixie Haddon | The Breeze

By Maggie Roth

Between running around to different club meetings on campus, to finishing a paper last minute, and trying to squeeze in dinner, sleep is usually a college student's last priority. Functioning on little or no sleep has become a normal part of college culture - however, it is anything but normal.

According to a study conducted by the Journal of Adolescent Health and published in Medical News Today, 70 percent of students don't receive the recommended eight hours of sleep a night. This lack of sleep can not only negatively impact a student's performance in the classroom, but it can also have detrimental effects on their health. Negative impacts range from anything such as memory loss and irritability, to more extreme effects such as an increased risk for diabetes and or obesity.

JMU wants its students to be healthy. A variety of healthy meal options are available at the dining halls, various fitness and wellness activities and resources are available at UREC, and health and wellness resources are available at the Health Center. And now, a new addition called the Nap Nook is has been implemented in the JMAD Lounge in Festival.

And this is all thanks to JMU senior psychology major and sleep researcher, Caroline Cooke. After losing her favorite napping spot on campus, the "Airport Lounge" in Warren Hall, Cooke decided that it was her responsibility to not only create a comfortable place for students to nap, but to also educate them on the importance of sleep. Thus, she created the Revive the Sleep Campaign at JMU.

"The goal is to increase student education about the many lifestyle factors that can have huge impacts on sleep quality, and that can even result in the development of sleep disorders," said Cooke.

By starting this campaign, she hopes that sleep education will gain attention and even become implemented into JMU's curriculum. What better way to stop the occasional "nodding off" in class or yawning during a professor's lecture than taking a quick and peaceful 20 minute nap before class starts?

"I would like students to experience the benefits of a power nap, since most students have paired napping with the drowsiness associated with sleep inertia accompanying longer naps," said Cooke.

Studies show that students are more successful in the classroom when they receive a full night's sleep. According to an article in ScienceDaily, Dr. Kohler of the Florida Sleep Institute in Spring Hill stated "A teen who regularly gets enough sleep will have improved academic performance, a positive attitude towards their education, and be able to better interact socially with their peers and teachers."

"This research is undisputable," said Cooke. "Sleep is strongly correlated with success, physical health, and mental well-being."

Not only can naps help jump start your brain and replenish your energy level naturally, but sleeping can cut down on the artificial caffeine outlets that students use to help keep awake during the day. These outlets such as energy drinks, coffee, and tea are okay in moderation, but when used constantly they can have negative effects. Also, those drinks can become costly and take a financial toll, while the Nap Nook is completely free and open to all JMU students.

Here at the University Health Center, we recommend that you work to include getting adequate sleep at night into your overall time management and take advantage of the Nap Nook. Go to jmunapnook.com to directly reserve a bean bag chair in the Nap Nook in advance. And if you want to learn more on the importance of sleep, or want to learn how to improve your sleep schedule, follow the University Health Center on Twitter @JMUHealthCenter for tips!








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