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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Student Health and Wellness Center develops nap map

The Student Health and Wellness Center is currently finalizing its annual nap map, a guide to the best places to grab a few minutes of shut-eye on campus.

Around 25 red sleep icons indicate top spots on this Google map, each of which, when selected, provides the curious with a convenient window of helpful information, including a description of the location, a ranking against other spots, helpful napping hints and, frequently, a photo.

Student Health and Counseling Services volunteers wander the UC Davis campus annually, searching for prime undiscovered napping locations and reevaluating old favorites. These volunteers are asked to grade these locales on a variety of criteria, the most important of which are comfort, noise level, light and safety.

The CAPS Mind Spa, located on the second floor of the Student Health and Wellness Center, was ranked first among all locations for its massage chairs, biofeedback software to help track stress management and its comfortable napping environment.

Jason Spitzer, a sexual and mental wellness health educator for the Department of Student Health and Counseling Services, is currently in charge of the map. Spitzer joined the staff shortly after it was first published in January of 2010.

“The idea behind the map was that if we were going to encourage students to nap we should at least show them where some good napping spots are,” Spitzer said.

Old favorites like Shields Library and the Quad also made the list, but, fittingly, were ranked slightly lower than locations that were less well-traveled.

To many, it can be considered nearly impossible to pass by the Quad on a sunny day without spotting a handful of nappers taking advantage of the soft grass and nice weather.

“I like the sun, that’s the best part. It’s warm in this weather, and it’s more comfortable than sitting on big chairs in the library,” said fourth year economics major Michelle Zhang.

Trinidad Alcala, a first-year biochemistry major, cites the Quad’s cleanliness and overall laid-back atmosphere as the top reasons she frequents the spot for her occasional afternoon naps.

The Wellman Hall study lounge is an indoor napping spot that is also popular with students for its central location.

“It’s a great spot to nap in between classes when you have a lot of them during the day,” said Andrew Karpinski, a second-year political science and English double major who was found napping in the lounge.

The Student Health and Counseling Services advises students take a 20 to 30 minute late-morning or early-afternoon nap every day to increase alertness, productivity and concentration.

The downsides to napping are few and are most generally caused by oversleeping, or taking a nap for a period longer than approximately 30 minutes. This can include sleep inertia and troubled nighttime sleeping, which cause grogginess and disorientation in some.

If students find themselves napping for more than 30 minutes, Spitzer said, it is usually a sign they are not getting enough sleep at night, and naps will no longer be effective.

“The benefits of naps are lost if people are not getting their full 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night,” he said.

In a memo about the benefits of naps, the National Sleep Foundation cited a NASA study on sleepy military pilots and astronauts, which found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent.

Based on positive nap research such as this, the Wellness Center decided to conduct a sleep campaign to encourage students to nap and share with them information on these benefits.

The department’s most recent sleep campaign ran in November and its next campaign will run in March.

“I think trying to make some of these resources a little more prominent will be good for us and the students as well,” Spitzer said.

As part of the sleep program, the Health Education and Promotion sector of the Student Health and Wellness Center provides free nap kits to students that can be picked up on the center’s third floor.

The map can be found at shcs.ucdavis.edu/topics/sleep-tips.

SAMANTHA SPARGO can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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