Lack of sleep hinders performance
University of Colorado’s ‘Siesta Room’ aids sleep on campus
Michelle Gray, The Oklahoma Daily
Imagine a public room on campus filled with beanbags, sleeping mats and couches. Students are given eye masks to aid dozing, and university employees watch their belongings and serve as human alarm clocks to wake them from slumber.
Such a room is no longer just a dream at the University of Colorado in Boulder. CU’s student health organization in February created what it has dubbed the “Siesta Room” inside the student union to give students a safe and relaxing place to nap between classes on Tuesday afternoons.
Mick Lambus, student coordinator for CU’s Community Health program and creator of the Siesta Room, said the idea for the room resulted from his quest for a good napping venue on campus.
A large part of getting rest is putting the mind at ease, and Lambus didn’t feel comfortable napping when he knew his things would be unattended, he said.
The Siesta Room is designed to be an ongoing program, said Robin Kolbe manager of Community Health. The campaign and budget for the project were made by students and approved by the campus health center.
As part of an effort by Community Health to raise awareness of students’ sleeplessness, CU has participated for six years in a student health survey coordinated by the National College Health Assessment. Kolbe said the survey consistently found that a lack of sleep was one of the main reasons students don’t succeed as well academically as possible.
“Sleep is a big problem for students,” Kolbe said. “Everyone knows students should get more sleep.”
The room is only available to students on Tuesday afternoons, but could change due to the number of students who use the room.
Lambus said they are looking to extend the hours the room is open to allow students who have class Tuesday afternoons other options.
He said about 50 students have napped in the room since its creation a month ago.
“Slowly, but surely, word is getting out,” Lambus said. “A lot of people have expressed interest in it.”
While CU students are slumbering in their Siesta Room, the prospect of an OU nap room is not promising.
Nancy Mergler, senior vice president and provost, said a nap room at OU would take a lot of consideration, space and resources for something that is already somewhat available to OU students.
The Oklahoma Memorial Union already provides students with napping and relaxation spots, and a nap room would take away from areas that are used for other things, said Susan Sasso, associate vice president of Student Affairs.
“The union is a very well-used space,” she said. “As a student, what would you like to see taken away to provide a nap room?”
Sasso said students already nap in places like Beaird Lounge, so napping spots aren’t an issue.
But not all students feel comfortable sleeping in the open areas.
Lauren Felts, University College freshman, said a designated nap room would help her as a student. Felts said she is on campus all day on Mondays and Wednesdays and has no time to go home and rest.
She said she doesn’t feel comfortable sleeping in open areas on campus because the constant activity makes her feel self-conscious. If OU had a designated sleeping area, Felts said she would feel much more comfortable taking naps on campus,
Even a 20-minute power nap between classes can help students recharge and perform better. A lack of sleep impairs a student’s motivation, verbal creativity, mental sharpness and ability to think abstractly, said Margaret Pool, OU health promotion coordinator in an e-mail.
She said a program designed to help students’ sleeping schedules would be a worthwhile effort.
But because everyone has individual sleeping habits, a nap room would not fully address the issue of students’ sleeplessness, Sasso said.
Students should try to develop a regular sleeping pattern, Mergler said.
“I support the idea of sleeping well at night,” she said. “I basically think it’s a personal responsibility.”