California State University, Fullerton

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Initiative Stresses Sleep’s Role in Student Success

Dec. 17, 2012

Cal State Fullerton health educator Nari Darst knows college students often are sleep-deprived, especially during stressful final examinations.

Darst is promoting the benefits to students of getting enough sleep, relaxation techniques and stress-relieving breaks to laugh and play with therapy dogs through “There's a Nap for That,” a Student Health and Counseling Center initiative.

Last week, the initiative brought trained therapy dogs to campus for “Calm Before the Storm,” a peer-led event sponsored by the campus Active Minds Chapter, a student organization that promotes mental health. During the Dec. 13 event, volunteers from three local nonprofit organizations brought therapy dogs to visit with students experiencing pre-finals stress.

Lack of Sleep Hurts Academics

According to the 2012 National College Health Assessment, one in five Titans reports that sleep problems hurt academic performance. Many blamed stress for lower grades or significant research disruptions in the last 12 months.

“This significant impact on academic performance led the Student Health and Counseling Center to develop an innovative new approach and allow students to take a nap on campus, in order to open a community dialogue about healthy sleep habits,” Darst said. 

During the two-week period before this semester’s final exams, students were able to take a quick nap on campus in the Begovich Gallery in the Visual Arts Center, where they were given eye masks and earplugs, and introduced to other stress-reducing tools, Darst said.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that naps last only 10-30 minutes, Darst noted. Longer naps can disrupt the length and quality of nighttime sleep and may cause “sleep inertia,” the grogginess felt after awakening from a deep sleep.

The best time to take a nap is between noon and 6 p.m. and the peak time is from 1 to 3 p.m., when many people experience an afternoon drop in energy, Darst said.

Although napping is not a substitute for getting a good night’s sleep, it can temporarily boost performance before an exam.

“Most importantly, when students get enough sleep — through naps and a regular sleep routine — they are healthier and more successful in school,” Darst said.

More information: Student Health and Counseling Center,

By: Debra Cano Ramos, 657-278-4027

Tags:  CommunityEvents