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Campuses help students get a little extra rest

Schools have installed energy pods, bean bags and cots to give students comfier places to nap
University Business, December 2014
Power nap pod: EnergyPods at Saint Leo U help students and faculty catch up on zzz’s.
Power nap pod: EnergyPods at Saint Leo U help students and faculty catch up on zzz’s.

A hatch closes on the round pod as it tilts backward. Inside, relaxing music plays along with a display of soothing LED lights and the student has 20 minutes to rest—before being roused by a gentle, automated massage.

Saint Leo University in Central Florida installed four of these EnergyPods in a residence hall common room two years ago to give a boost to students who may have let their sleep patterns slip. The room is open to all students and faculty.

“We need to spend more time assisting students with balancing work, study and sleep,” says Ken Posner, Saint Leo’s associate vice president for student services, adding that it’s “well worth the investment.”

The pods, which are built by Metronaps, cost $8,000 to $12,000 apiece. They’re used an average of five hours a day, with heaviest use around 7:30 a.m., after morning sports practices and ROTC drills, Posner says.

Saint Leo is not alone in providing nap space beyond hard library desks and random couches. The Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, set up 10 cots in a classroom during mid-terms and finals. The college’s first nap area was pop-up tent within a courtyard.

In a survey, 70 percent of students said the nap room was a “high priority” for their well being, says Teri Bond, the college’s director of media relations. Lack of sleep should no longer be considered a fact of college life, says Caroline Cooke, a sleep researcher and graduate of James Madison University in Virginia, who created the Nap Nook at her alma mater in the fall of 2013.

“Chronic sleep deprivation is not a sustainable lifestyle behavior,” Cooke says, adding that 20-minute power naps have benefits.

The Nap Nook, located in a student union, contains eight bean-bag chairs, white noise machines, dimmed lighting and antimicrobial pillows that can be signed out. About 2,500 naps were recorded this school year.

Cooke says she would like to help other campuses create nap space. For more information on her efforts, visit http://jmunapnook.com.

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