Natasha Doris | Wed, 27 Nov 2019
Picture this. You’ve gotten out of bed for a 9am lecture. You were up late the night before studying, doing laundry, seeing a few friends. You have a mountain of reading to get done, labs to complete, notes to write, and the flat, house or couch you crash at is a good half an hour walk away at least. If you’re me, your home is a half hour bus ride away, not counting time spent waiting for the bus, making it on average an hour to two-hour round trip on a good day. You are looking to maximise your time, your energy, your efficiency, and… all you need is thirty minutes to rest your mind and muscles somewhere, and you’ll be back to work. Your body is begging, pleading with you to let it rest, but you have so much work to get done. So, at this rate of memorisation, and this level of efficiency, you acknowledge that time is precious, and the journey to your place of habitation is anything but convenient. You need to nap, now. So, you look for a place to rest your weary head.
On this campus, that means sleeping with your head on the desk again. Oh, you can try to curl up in one of the library armchairs – If you don’t mind waking up with an ungodly crick in your neck, that is. The staircase at the back of the library? The carpet’s prickles actually pierce your jeans and sweater, who would have thought? Somewhere in the corner of the first floor of the MacRobert building? Manageable, but the floor is hard and uncomfortable (at least there are no prickles in this carpet, however). The couches in Starbucks? Judgemental looks from patrons, and it’s also not feasible napping there with an empty cup of coffee. The place is packed and people with full coffee cups want that couch. The hub, then? Noisy, busy, and again, judgemental looks from patrons. Okay, an empty classroom? Not empty for long, and your peaceful nap will come to a calamitous end of being chased out of the room by an irate and also sleep-deprived professor of some discipline or another. What are you going to do?
Hear me out on this idea for a second. Nap. Stations. A few empty rooms, or an underused floor or department of a university building, where all we need are somewhat comfortable couches, beds, cheap futons, for the love of all, to be set up, and students who only need brief moments of respite might take the time out of their schedules and curl up for just thirty or forty minutes, to rest their heads without paying the price of that awful, painful crick in their mangled neck. We students have a lot happening in our lives. We work jobs, manage assignments and reading, manage our flats, laundry, meal prep, we attend lectures and spend endless hours writing notes in the library. We run societies and social lives, raise funds for charities, break our backs searching for jobs and internships, and all we want is some small, merciful assistance to our productivity when our ultimately busy lives lead to our ultimately inevitable sleep deprivation. We want to nap, and the science supports our request in this regard.
Research conducted by NASA found that only a twenty-four-minute nap has the benefit of increasing performance by up to 34%, and alertness by up to 54%. Furthermore, a multi-year study found that napping for thirty minutes three times per week lowered the risk of death from heart disease by 37% - and given the lack of affordable healthy food options on campus, we can definitely all agree that this is a vital statistic in favour of napping facilities.
The lack of napping facilities is not a solo crusade on my part. Students have been commenting for years that the campus is sorely lacking in social spaces; pantry facilities (try finding a microwave to heat up your dinner after 5pm, I challenge you), places to chat, relax, eat their food – you’ve snuck your hot food in the stairwell at Duncan Rice, don’t lie – amenities such as hot water dispensers and lockers for the books we heft around all day, breaking our backs. So many other universities take for granted the facilities which, to us, are long overdue. Really, it’s no wonder we’re no longer “Scottish University of the Year.” I’m surprised we ever were – But then, maybe that’s just the sleep deprivation talking.