Between busy schedules and commutes, it’s no secret that college students struggle to get some shut-eye. There aren’t any designated sleeping areas on campus, but UTD does offer lofty areas that could serve as much-needed napping spots between classes.
A meta analysis by the Center for Disease Control found that 60% of college students get approximately 7 hours of sleep, with 75% experiencing sleep disturbances and 26.4% experiencing insomnia. Students at UTD reportedly get even less than these numbers, with the National College Health Assessment recording 57.2% getting either four to six hours of sleep or five to seven hours of sleep on average. Additionally, inadequate sleep could result in a decreased GPA, as found by the National College Institute.
Rey Manriquez, a psychology graduate and Student Wellness Center peer health educator, is a work-study student assistant in the ongoing “Sleep and Daily Experiences” research project. Manriquez agrees that students aren’t getting enough sleep and believes part of the crisis comes from time management.
“I think it’s very important to create boundaries for yourself,” Manriquez said. “Learning to say no and establishing your boundaries when it comes to your personal life is extremely important before you take on any additional projects. You should always make sure that your needs are met first, and that’s highly applicable when it comes to school, work and sleep.”
To support students, some universities like Texas A&M offer sleeping pods or designated areas for sleep between classes for students who don’t live on campus or don’t have time to return home for a short nap. However, UTD does not have any designated sleeping spots on campus. All that is currently offered outside hammock spaces is educational programs and aid by the Student Wellness Center.
“In those ways we can promote sleep wellness, but we can’t hold the person’s hand and force them to go to sleep,” Manriquez said. “I know that other schools like bigger universities and small universities too have sleeping pods specifically for students who need to take a nap on campus because they can’t go to their dorm easily or they live very far away from campus. And I think that’s a great resource to have.”
However, commuters and poor sleep schedules don’t have to lose hope yet, because there are still plenty of makeshift nap spots across campus.
The couches on the third floor of Founders are lifesavers. With rarely any noise to disturb during daylight hours, it’s a convenient pit stop in the middle of campus where most people will not bother you. However, in the evening, you are more than likely to be awakened by any number of dancing groups or private events.
The fourth floor of the library is also a nice spot to nap if you don’t snore or rely on alarms to wake up. It’s a little uncomfortable because the space is reserved for only the most studious, but if you bring a jacket to use as a pillow, you can get plenty of rest. You can also technically rent out a free study room for silence, but the chairs aren’t exactly made for comfort.
The ECSW second floor study lounge is another great place to nap if you can secure lounge seats. In the morning and noon, these spots are rarely noisy, but they are scarce as a popular study spot for the same reason. They are close to parking and mostly quiet when everyone else is in class.
The best spot, however, is only accessible if you have a hammock. If your sleepless soul doesn’t already own one, you can rent one at Recreation Center West for $5 a day. Hammock Grove, next to Parking Structure 1 and behind the library, is perfect in good weather, especially in spring with warm sunlight, chirping birds and nobody to bother you from feeling fully refreshed. At most, you’ll only see water scientists and a few other people looking for a place to sleep or read alone. If that’s too far away, then look no further than Phase 8’s hammocks in the center courtyard, which go unused outside nightly volleyball games.
Of course, the best place to sleep is in a bed. Students should plan on at least eight hours of undisturbed sleep, and a nap can’t be a substitute for that. If you need to take a nap, consider only getting 20 to 30 minutes of shut-eye to refresh and prevent disturbing your sleep cycles.
“It’s a big issue for a lot of college students, including UTD students,” Manriquez said. “Some people forget to prioritize themselves and their wellness, it’s so much more important because that includes like social wellness, emotional wellness, physical wellness, mental wellness, just a holistic area of wellness. And sleep is a big contributor to that.”