The effects of napping

Turning a scientific lens toward concerns on college campuses, Connell School researchers found that undergraduates who habitually take long and late naps may be risking the quality of their nighttime sleep. Assistant Professor Lichuan Ye, CSON doctoral candidates Stacy Hutton-Johnson and Kathleen Keane, and collaborators from Boston College’s biostatistics department and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York used a web-based survey to study the sleeping habits of a random sample of undergraduate students. Their paper appeared online in the Journal of American College Health in January.

The researchers used students’ self-reported answers to an online questionnaire to measure quality of sleep and disturbances over a one-month period using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Students also reported the frequency, length, and timing of their naps as well as their grade point averages and self-assessed mood and energy levels.

The study confirmed previous findings that college students nap frequently (75 percent reported taking a nap in the previous month). It also showed a strong correlation between napping often, long, and late in the day and staying up late. The majority of students self-identified as “night owls” (66.3 percent), and 59.7 percent of students qualified as “poor sleepers” based on their PSQI results.

The authors suggest that their findings not only confirm sleep habit patterns among university students but also indicate a link between frequent, long, and late naps and lower academic performance. The research suggests a need for interventional strategies to help college students improve their sleep, the authors said.