The Nap Conspiracyby Meg Elison on Oct, 27 2012
It’s late afternoon and you’re burned-out, studied to the mat, and over it. It’s warm inside and cold outside. The couch is deep and soft, and you’re slipping over the edge of your consciousness into a deep ocean of blissful sleep.
Then comes the gentle yet urgent tap. “I’m sorry. You can’t sleep in here.”
You hear whispered legends and I follow the tales they tell. The math library in Evans. The engineering library. Desperation and exhaustion chases you around the campus for weeks, in search of some welcoming haven where a soul could steal a half hour of peace. The truth is none of them are secure; the sleeper’s belongings are on display and could disappear at any moment. None of them are welcoming, either. You have been misinformed that you can sleep in many places where you will be gently but firmly awoken.
When it happened to me, I took my frustration where everyone does: the internet. I found an example of a college that has a student nap space: Colorado University. The room is called “Siesta” and is staffed by a person who will watch belongings and wake sleepers at a pre-appointed time. This is a perfect idea! Surely, I thought, since Berkeley is the greatest public university on earth, we could have one too! As I read further into the policies and research behind this trail-blazing nap space, I found something rather shocking.
The research that proved that people showed significant cognitive benefits after a mid-day nap, specifically affecting the ability to absorb new information, was published by a Berkeley scientist and his team. In 2010, Matthew P. Walker in the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory, published his findings based on a survey of 39 healthy adults. The study showed that those test subjects who had a short afternoon nap performed 40% better on the cognitive test than those who did not.
What’s wrong with this picture? The research comes from right here! This beautiful, fantastic school that we are so privileged to attend made it possible for students to get a nap… elsewhere. Sleepy Golden Bears need not apply.
I’m not one to complain without suggesting a solution, so here it is: I recognize that the Morrison Library isn’t the best location. It’s intended as a quiet space where even the clickety clack of laptops is banned, and it’s open to the public. I propose that a room be made available for 1-2 hours a day, staffed with a work study employee. Access would be granted to those presenting a student ID. In a dimly lit room, old couches and armchairs or even yoga mats could be spread out. People could reserve a napping space using a simple email, or it could be run first-come first-served. It’s a small thing that could improve student wellness, performance, and school spirit.
The research is done. The conclusion is clear. Cal students need naps. All we lack is a welcoming location on campus in which to dream our dreams.