Forty-hour weeks don’t work for everyone

Sept. 2, 2013

Shelby Shively
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Studies show people who take 10-20 minute naps to get through the day can actually be more productive.

As a student with a sleep disorder, which significantly impacts me as a student and as a member of the workforce, I could benefit from at least one.

Although countries like Spain have implemented siestas, or periods of midday rest, to their workdays, the U.S. does not have a similar arrangement that would make the rest of the day much easier for me and others with similar disorders.

When other students are pushing through finals on only three hours of sleep for the week, I don’t have the option of giving up a full eight hours every night and functioning properly the next day.

My sleep doctor informed me that almost everyone experiences a drop in energy levels right around 2 or 3 p.m.

Some of us with sleep disorders are incapable of staying awake through that drop since we have no control over our sleep and wake cycles. Most other people find ways to caffeinate through that haze.

Besides careful time management and no time to procrastinate, my disorder is very episodic. I don’t know from one day to the next if I will be able to get myself out of bed in a very literal sense, if I will be able to drive or if I will be able to keep my eyes open long enough to do my assigned reading.

Having the opportunity to refresh my energy built into the day could help curb some of my symptoms.

While it is difficult to deal with as a student, it is much easier with the help of Disability Services on campus.

They have helped me learn about accommodations I didn’t even realize I needed, such as priority registration for classes so I can be sure to get into the classes I need in the afternoon and evening.

Unfortunately, registering with public disability services is not feasible in my case because many people with sleep disorders are restricted from driving.

The siesta represents a good alternative to our traditional workday. In Spain, many people still work 40 hours or more each week but break up their days to allow for greater productivity.

It would benefit everyone in the U.S., not only those with sleep disorders, to have a single extra hour at lunch.