It's 3 pm, you've finished classes for the day, but you have an entire essay to write by morning and a sneaking suspicion you're supposed to do something with that pile of shiny new textbooks on your desk. You swear that once you get back to your room, you'll get started on your work. But maybe... you could just... close your eyes... for a few minutes? And then it's 11pm and you've been asleep in your shoes for 8 hours.
Being in college is tiring—in addition all the academic work, plus maybe a part-time job, there's all the extra effort of taking care of yourself like a real adult and trying not to wear pajamas to class more than two days in a row. No wonder you get a little sleepy. But uncontrolled napping can really get in the way of all the other stuff you need to do, like "passing your classes" and "graduating." So here is our guide to taking control of your napping habit. (If you haven't taken a nap since you were three, then just replace the word "nap" with your procrastination activity of choice.)
Go study somewhere that is not nap-friendly
Lying on your bed with your laptop precariously balanced on your ribs makes it far too easy to slip into nap mode. It takes more effort to stay awake in this position than to go to sleep. Whereas in the library or coffee shop, you're sitting upright in a fairly uncomfortable chair, with easy access to caffeine, and a bunch of other people around ready to stare and judge you if you fall asleep. This is far more productive.
Get enough sleep
Surprisingly, studies have shown that sleeping prevents tiredness. (Also, eating prevents hunger and walking around prevents being mistaken for a statue.) Try to get 8-10 hours. That means stop Googling lolcats until 3 am, especially if you have class at 8. Keep a regular sleep schedule—when you're going to bed at midnight one day and 11am the next, your body just goes around thinking "IT IS ALWAYS POTENTIALLY BEDTIME" and it's easy to doze off anywhere.
Eat food and move your limbs
If you're hungry, you're tired. We don't know why, but we suspect it has something to do with tiny gremlins that live in your bones. Also, sitting around all day, even if you're studying, will make you lethargic (an easy test to check if you're lethargic is to see whether you can be bothered to type out the word "lethargic.") So next time you feel like curling up under your desk for a snooze and then eating Skittles for dinner, go for a short jog to the cafeteria instead, try to eat something that had leaves on it at some point in the past, and breathe in lots of fresh air on the way back to wake yourself up. This will not be nearly as much fun as a nap followed by Skittles, but it will improve your chances of finishing that assignment on time.
Use naps as rewards
Anyone who's ever tried to stop eating chocolate knows that going cold turkey on anything is never a good idea. If you try to stop yourself napping ever, you will eventually go on a nap binge, which pretty much involves sleeping all day and periodically waking up because you think you're falling. Instead, nap in moderation. Use naps as incentive to get your work done. "If I finish reading this chapter in my horrifyingly thick Psych textbook AND take detailed notes all the way to the end, not just for the first few paragraphs, then I can nap until dinner," you'll tell yourself, right before falling asleep on your horrifyingly thick Psych textbook.
How often do you nap?
Related post: Confessions of an RA: Lists Are Your Friends