UNH Health Services hosted the first power nap session of the spring semester on Thursday, Feb. 2 in Studio Two of the newly renovated Hamel Recreation Center. During these sessions, Dawn Zitney, a wellness educator and counselor at Health Services’ Office of Health Education and Promotion, teaches students about sleep habits, guides a short meditation and leads participants into sleep with the accompaniment of dim lighting and ambient music.
According to Zitney, the program’s goal is to educate students about the importance of quality sleep. Zitney said sleep is among the top three major health concerns for college-age people. A power nap —of approximately 20 minutes — is not long enough that the person partaking in it falls into such a deep sleep that upon waking up, they feel groggy. In a lot of instances, a nap of 30 to 60 minutes will leave a person feeling groggy. If one has the chance to sleep for at least 90 minutes, they will have gone through enough sleep cycles to feel well rested. The early-afternoon setting for the power napping session also encourages resting earlier in the day, specifically during the afternoon lull that many people face after lunchtime.
With sleep sometimes hard to come by for busy college students, Zitney emphasized that it’s very likely that everyone has 20 minutes to spare in the early afternoon for a nap that will rejuvenate their bodies and lead them to be ready to take on the rest of the day.
As described on the Health Services webpage about sleep, most college-aged young adults need 8 to 10 hours of sleep per night, but six to seven is generally the average of what this age group typically gets. This is due to a variety of reasons, but it’s primarily because of the varying alteration of sleep schedules by collegiate students. Not feeling tired at night but being exhausted during the day is a common result of such sleep methods. Light and melatonin also dictate these circadian rhythms of sleep, and the disruption of normal sleep can cause poor academic performance, stress and irritability, among other problems. It can also increase the likelihood of accidents, injuries, headaches and psychosocial issues.
Last year, the power napping sessions took place in the Health Service building at 4 Pettee Brook Lane, but now that the Hamel Rec. Center has more space and a new look, the program has since been moved there.
These power naps run every Thursday this semester from 1:10-2 p.m. and again at 2:10-3 p.m., and are free for all students who paid the student health fee, which is included in tuition. This fee enables Health Services to offer such programs to students at free or reduced prices. Included in this experience, at no cost to students, is a gift bag that includes tea bags, a facemask and ear plugs, some helpful knowledge, new strategies to fall asleep faster and 20 minutes of uninterrupted napping, all in a span of 50 minutes in between classes. Yoga mats and blankets are also available for use in Studio Two.
Health Services highly encourages students to attend this program, as it can have a vast array of positive effects on both mental and physical health, as well as academics.