It’s Nap Time at Chemeketa … or is it?
By Jace Woods
Is it unreasonable to fall asleep in the middle of class?
The answer to that naughty-or-nice question greatly depends on who you ask.
Christopher MacLean, a Chemeketa psychology instructor, falls into the naughty camp.
“I would consider a nap in class to be both harmful and disrespectful,” he says.
On the opposite end of the scale, the nice side, is Martin Salinas, a Chemeketa student majoring in business.
“I don’t really take naps in class, but I don’t blame those who do. I am tempted myself once in a while,” Salinas says.
“When you have to do homework really late one night, an instructor shouldn’t be mad that your nap is because of the homework.”
Regardless of which side of the equation you fall, tiredness is a common dilemma for many Chemeketa students.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a government-sponsored organization designed to advance science and health by providing access to biomedical information, 50 percent of college students report daytime sleepiness and 70 percent attain insufficient sleep.
So what is the solution to such a predicament?
“On average, I play video games until 2 a.m. I then wake up at 7 to get ready for morning classes,” Edgar Ortega, a first-year Chemeketa student, says.
“I end up pretty tired at school the next day. I shamefully admit that I sleep through at least half of my health class.”
Ortega is not alone.
Alex Johnson, a Chemeketa student majoring in general science, says, “In biology, I usually doze off for around five minutes per class. It is the instructor, I think. Last term my biology instructor was much more interesting. I never recall falling asleep during the lecture.”
Many students agree that the subject matter, along with the instructor who is teaching the class, have some bearing on whether they are inclined to fall asleep during a class.
Then again, it might be which side of the naughty-or-nice divide you fall on that determines your point of view.
“The vast majority of psychology students find the discipline applicable and engaging,” MacLean, who values an exciting environment for his classroom, says.
“My classes are activity-intensive and participatory, with unidirectional lecture kept to a minimum.”
Those considerations also help determine whether a student will or won’t take a nap.
“I actually don’t notice students sleeping in class,” MacLean says. “I remember as an undergraduate that students were far more likely to sleep in courses where they did not need to open their mouths in class.”
Other tricks of the trade?
“I move around the classroom constantly, and we do all kinds of exercises in class … to keep students on their toes,” MacLean says.
A lively class environment means that fewer naps are required, even among the sleep-deprived.
But not all classes are alike: What works in one classroom might not work in another.
That’s true for students as well as instructors.
Salinas, who is studying business, says, “It is essential in a psychology class that students use their brains in specific ways. … It’s what psychology is.
“Science classes have been the most boring for me, however, high school and college, which is why it is more common for people to take naps in those classes.”
What Salinas says may correlate to what MacLean does.
MacLean does mention one more important element to being awake in class.
“Sleep is important,” he says.
MacLean argues that getting a good night’s sleep is as equally crucial as an interactive classroom.
Unfortunately for many college students, sleep is not something that is easy to accomplish.
“Sleep is important … watching movies is more so,” Corin Reinke, a full-time Chemeketa student, says. “I try to find more time for sleep, but I never really feel tired until sometime in the a.m.”
In all, Reinke estimates that he gets 6 hours of sleep at night. This hardly meets the necessary benchmark supplied by the University of Georgia Health Center, which reports that most adults need from 6 to 10 hours of sleep per night; sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night can result in insomnia.
Carol Nowicki, a Chemeketa health and physical education instructor, also falls in the camp against napping or sleeping in class. She believes that prepping for a good night’s sleep is the best way to get plenty of rest and avoid tiredness at school.
“Have a daily evening routine,” she says. “Exercise during the day, but not within the three hours before going to bed. Also, don’t eat or drink much prior to bedtime.”
Many students look for loopholes and counter measures to help them avoid class snoozes.
Dakota Graber, for example, is one of many students who use coffee to help keep them awake during classes.
“Netflix makes me stay below the minimum sleep recommendation, and coffee helps me stay alert during class,” she says.
But even the loopholes can be exploited to the point where they no longer work.
“Quality rest is directly tied to learning and memory,” MacLean says.
Maybe students should be encouraged by their instructors to get more sleep?
Maybe instructors should look to reformat their classes to mirror a class such as MacLean’s?
And maybe, just maybe, taking a nap should be avoided at all costs if your goal is obtain a quality education.
Johnson, who is studying general science, dismisses the case with the power of technology.
“With access to movies, video games, social media … from the comfort of your own bed, I think a nap during school is something that is becoming more and more common,” he says.
“It’s worth it for me.”