College life eliminates regular sleeping schedule

Column by Sarah O’Rourke

Sarah O'Rourke-w2000-h2000Confession time: I cannot function throughout the day without taking frequent, short naps. Just ask my roommates.

I even have a sign on my door so my roommates know if I am taking a nap. And then they don’t bother me. Some of you may be asking why a grown up 21-year-old needs to take naps like a child. Well let me tell you, it is completely necessary and required for my daily routine. And I have no shame.

When did this phenomenon start? I certainly didn’t take naps in high school. My high school started super early, too (7:20 a.m.), so you would think I would be in need of a nap after that torture. Surprisingly, I cannot remember taking a single nap after school. And after thinking about it, this is probably because I went to bed at a decent hour. Every night I was in the habit of going to bed at 10 p.m. so, I could wake up at 5:25 a.m. and get exactly seven hours and 25 minutes of sleep.

I am one of those people who needs at least seven hours of sleep to even function. Ideally, I would get around nine hours of sleep, but this is the real world and that is sadly not possible.

Upon coming to college, I had no worries about getting my full seven hours of sleep. My earliest class freshman year was chemistry at 9 a.m., so compared to high school, it was such a treat. Or so I thought.

What I didn’t factor in was the time it would take me to study and prepare for college classes. And the loud people living in the dorms. Going to bed at my usual 10 p.m. was just not going to happen anymore, and there was nothing I could do about it.

The only way that I could compensate for my lack of sleep was by taking naps. My naps tend to vary in length from 22 minutes up to five hours. Yes, that is correct, five-hour naps. With all the homework and studying a college kid is expected to do, sleep is usually sacrificed. Although I do sacrifice sleep during the night, I make up for it during the day with my naps.

My daily routine begins with class in the morning (8 a.m. this past semester) and a nap right after class. Usually I am so tired from taking notes for hours, so I wouldn’t be able to get anything done anyways. Instead of struggling to stay awake, I take naps. If I am super tired, I won’t set an alarm, and I’ll just wake up when I feel rested (hence the five hour naps). If I am only mildly tired, I’ll set an alarm for between 22 minutes to one hour. Then, if I wake up and still feel tired, I’ll set another alarm for an additional half hour or so.

Taking naps is essential for me to function, so I will always set aside time for them. If I don’t, and I try to do homework, I will fall asleep reading over my notes. So I might as well just take a nap.

To all of you sleep deprived college students: Please take naps. They help tremendously. And when you get out in the real world, you won’t be able to take naps every day, so take advantage of this luxury while you can. Happy napping!

O’Rourke is a first-year pharmacy major and can be reached at

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