University nap rooms are telling of an overburdened student population

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] am way too tired to listen to some BS argument for why SFU needs a napping room. With universities looking at safe napping spaces as a real solution for student exhaustion, we’re left asking ourselves why the fuck are we all this tired to begin with?

BCIT is dreaming of a better tomorrow

BCIT’s sleep pods have caused a huge discussion on the sleeping habits of students. Two isolated pods in the campus library are available to BCIT students who wish to take a nap without fear of being disturbed or having their stuff stolen.screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-5-11-55-pm

For BCIT, a school whose full-time programs generally require the student’s presence for 25–35 hours a week — not to mention lots of homework and self-study time — a safe place for students to catch some Z’s between study groups makes a lot of sense. It’s not always the best decision to transit home for an hour’s rest when you could just take a nap at school instead and use your time more efficiently.

At BCIT, the pods are in the library for human and video surveillance to keep occupancy to one person and to try to make them as safe as possible. There aren’t a lot of spaces around campus that are both quiet and have heavy traffic to help with safety.

While there’s buzz about these two pods at BCIT, we have no real room for pods here at SFU.

Rock-a-bye students on the mountain top

The question on many minds at SFU is this: would sleep pods be a good idea for any of the SFU campuses?

The short answer is no. SFU is not a campus that needs safe napping spaces.

With the pods clocking in at several thousand dollars, it’s a pretty serious investment that, frankly, shouldn’t be necessary. That’s not to say that we at SFU don’t have long commutes or packed schedules with lots of homework — we do. But the main reason that sleep pods aren’t a good idea, and in the end won’t really solve anything for us, because sleep pods treat the symptoms, not the cause.

There is currently space being allocated in the new Student Union Building (SUB) for students to catch some afternoon snooze. The napping room — which will be quiet, with soft spaces to sleep, and have lockers to protect personal items — will mitigate any need for a sleeping pod. But even a napping room does not make sense for SFU students.

Students shouldn’t have to take naps in between classes just to make it through the day. Our exhaustion has reached absurd levels. And building a napping room is proof of that. The National Sleep Foundation (USA) reports that young adults aged 18-25 should be sleeping seven to nine hours a night. But I don’t think any of us can confidently say that we’re getting that much rest at night. But students aren’t sleeping less by choice, more often than not students deprive themselves of sleep because they have no other choice.

Bachelor of over-exhaustion

All details aside, we have to ask ourselves: why are students so exhausted at school?

Sleep pods, nap areas, and any other sleeping place shouldn’t be a necessary academic tool. Students shouldn’t be so overworked that they need to sleep between classes or spend nights on campus in order to fulfill a course syllabus.screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-5-11-49-pm

The conversation should instead be about the overuse of homework. I’m talking about readings and question sets that we are all supposed to do, but for which we can’t find the time. Of course, practice helps, but at a certain point the cost-benefit ratio is no longer in favour of homework.

It is rare to find a student these days who is only a student, who doesn’t have a job or other obligations eating away at their time. When assignments are handed out and the course schedule is reviewed in the first class, it’s easy to believe that professors don’t understand that or don’t realize that many students take more than one class.

According to the Government of Canada, in 2012–13, students in Canada had $2.6 billion in student loans. And those loans add up quickly. The Canadian Federation of Students reports that the Canada Student Loan Program is now owed $19 billion, and the number is growing by approximately $1 million more every day. CTV also estimates that the average individual student’s debt is more than $25,000.

Young Canadians are enrolling in universities and other post-secondary institutions with the hope that they will leave better off than when they started — and 20 years ago, that was the case. But it’s becoming clearer that young Canadians are being bogged down with so  much student debt, financial stability seems unattainable.

In 2011’s Master Report, the Canadian University Survey Consortium found that more than 50 percent of students had a job during their studies, working an average of 18 hours per week.

OK, let’s work with this. At 18 hours a week, on average, and a hypothetical full course load of 15 credits, we’re at 33 hours a week. Plus, SFU recommends that you study three hours per credit hour attempted per week. That’s another 45 hours. We’re up to 78 hours a week, and that doesn’t even include all the extra time you have to put in when papers and projects (especially the ever-dreaded group project) come around.screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-5-12-13-pm

Seventy-eight hours! That’s the equivalent of working two full-time jobs, and doesn’t factor in eating time, which is approximately an hour a day (and that doesn’t include cooking time). Eighty-five hours. Not to mention many students also hold down real jobs to pay their tuition. And we can’t forget about transit time — SFU says that each student spends about 45 minutes on transit. Multiply this by two to get to school and back, and that clocks in at roughly 1.5 hours. Five days a week, that’s another 7.5 hours. The total is now up to 92.5 hours.

With long commutes being an issue for SFU students, we then have to look at early start times as another problem. It’s hard enough to get into the classes you need to graduate, none of us are in a position to be picky about the class start time. While 8:30 a.m. classes might be doable for people living on or near campus, anyone commuting from outside of burnaby will have to wake up extremely early to make it up the mountain during morning rush hour.

You get the picture, I’m sure. A napping room won’t fix the fact that we’re working two jobs and taking out loans to pay for a degree that won’t get us a real job anyway.

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-5-12-06-pmThe point is, you run out of time in a hurry. I’m an English student. I often have 20 novels — or the text equivalent — to read in a semester, in addition to writing papers, working two part-time jobs, and contributing to this lovely publication. Let me tell you, it’s a struggle to find time to do all that and sleep an appropriate amount of time every night. More often than not, sleep is sacrificed. Of course, others don’t read the readings or even buy the textbooks, choosing instead to get extra sleep time.

So while it would be nice to have a more secure location to sleep in than, say, the sixth floor of Bennett or around the AQ. It’d be like putting a bandage on a stab wound and saying you’re healed.


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  1. You got it wrong some research and you’ll realize short naps lead to huge health benefits even if you sleep well and are not overworked..all unis and offices should offer this to their people in the future to make the world a better place