Setting my alarm for 3:30 p.m., I’ll have an hour of sleep if I fall asleep right now. I close my eyes and settle in for a nice, brief nap. Then, I wake up at 6:30 p.m., just in time for my section to end. Of course, two hours later than I planned.
Another afternoon, while reading very dense literature on a Roman emperor, I wake up to my roommate coming into the room. Only I don’t remember ever falling asleep.
Naps are great. They’re refreshing, relaxing and just generally enjoyable. Sometimes they’re even necessary, particularly here at Stanford where late nights are common. They can have their downsides, though — downsides that often involve sleeping through something important. But through a considerable amount of dozing off when I really shouldn’t be, I’ve discovered a few of the various naps available, both good and bad.
1. The Class Nap
This is a common one. It tends to happen in large lecture halls under the veil of anonymity or in early morning classes with droning professors. It seems like all of the conditions are perfectly poised to make you sleepy. This type of nap can be great, but only if you don’t wake up to an angry professor calling your name.
2. The Public Transportation Nap
This one is particularly dangerous. It’s surprisingly easy to be lulled to sleep by the monotonous movements of a train or bus. Luckily, I’ve managed to narrowly avoid this type of nap in most cases, but I know a friend of a friend who fell asleep on the Caltrain, missed his stop and had to Uber back to campus. I doubt he had a very enjoyable time after he woke up, but he probably got some good rest at least.
3. The Dorm Lounge Nap
Napping in the dorm lounge on a sunny afternoon is a personal favorite of mine. There’s always a good couch to stretch out on, and I can always tell myself I’m actually in the lounge to do homework, at least until I inevitably fall asleep. Then I can enjoy an hour or two of blissful rest. My dorm’s lounge even comes with its own alarm clock: very loud pianists.
4. The Outdoor Nap
Stanford has such a beautiful campus; it’s basically begging you to take a nap. There’s so much soft grass and open space that an outdoor study session can quickly turn into an outdoor nap session. Even for an indoor person like me, a good nap in the grass under a nice tree is always appealing.
5. The “I’ll Just Sleep for Five Minutes” Nap
I’m definitely guilty of this one and so many variations of it. It ranges from “I’ll just tuck myself into bed and read this very dull book for class because I want to comfortably study” to “I’ll just rest my eyes for a second” to “I’ll totally wake up in five or 10 minutes even though that has literally never worked before.” The excuses seem to get more and more creative every time, but even I can’t completely convince myself; I always end up setting an alarm, “just in case.” Even so, these moments have resulted in some of my best naps. The only problem is waking up to find an essay deadline looming half an hour away.
6. The Perfect Nap
This nap is the ultimate goal. The details vary from person to person, but they can generally be boiled down to five categories: length, time, location, presence of dreams and method of awakening. My search for the perfect nap has taken me through many different types of naps, but I believe my goal is in reach. I might just have to sleep through a few more discussion sections to get there.
Contact Kiara Harding at kiluha ‘at’ stanford.edu.