Morrison Library Cracks Down on Naps

Photo: Students are no longer allowed to sleep in Morrison Library, whose quiet ambiance made it a very popular campus napping location.
Anna Vignet/Staff
Students are no longer allowed to sleep in Morrison Library, whose quiet ambiance made it a very popular campus napping location.

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Morrison Library is the softly-lit, softly-furnished, perfectly scented, chock-full-of-books library of every bibliophile's dreams - and two-thirds of the room's occupants often seem to be dreaming. Students lay curled on couches and huddled into fetal positions in armchairs, napping in nearly every nook and cranny. There are studious folks too, to be sure, but many of its patrons can be found catching up on much-needed sleep.

Recently, however, library officials have begun cracking down on nappers. The sign warning students not to use laptops or eat in the library has sent an additional message since July: "No Sleeping. Student workers are encouraged to rouse sleepers from their slumber and inform them that Morrison is a space for studying, not slumber."

"It's never been part of the philosophy of the Morrison Library that people should come there to sleep ... but it's become sort of a myth on campus," said Elizabeth Dupuis, director of Doe and Moffitt Libraries.

As more and more students come expressly to sleep, slipping off their shoes, tossing their jackets over their heads and dozing off, library administrators are concerned that the room's unique ambiance is being ignored.

"It seems kind of silly for people to go in that room to sleep and not to enjoy the presence of the room," said Scott Peterson, the head of Morrison Library.

He adds it's a matter of limited resources. Peterson says he received a handful of complaints from students who have been unable to find room in the library to study or have been disturbed by snoring.

During a routine check of the library, Peterson was disturbed by the fact that students are "falling asleep for hours on end," which he deems excessive.

"I definitely sympathize (with tired students), but I don't see how turning Morrison into a big bedroom is helping the situation," he said.

However, sleep researchers at UC Berkeley, like psychology postdoctoral fellow Bryce Mander, say that this use of the library is a symptom of a larger problem of chronic sleep deprivation.

"If you're excessively napping, that's generally a sign that you are sleep deprived or have a sleep disorder," he said.

While shorter naps can aid immediate alertness - especially if they are directly preceded by caffeine - the jury is still out on their memory benefits.

Longer naps - naps over an hour long - can enhance learning and help form episodic memories, which is the kind of learning college students are tested on.

"If libraries are places to help us do work necessary for success in school, why can't we sleep in them?" asked Ian Ornstein, a freshman who frequents Morrison Library.


Contact Noor Al-Samarrai at [email protected]org.

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