Nap rooms could lead to happier students and better grades

Gaining popularity on campuses nationwide

More schools are building dedicated nap rooms to help fatigued students during all-night study sessions, between long commutes, or between classes, Olivia Waxman writes in TIME magazine.

The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor last spring purchased six cots and disposable linens for a nap room in the undergraduate library, making it the latest school to provide on campus snoozing locations for tired students. The cots have a 30-minute time limit and are first-come-first-serve.

Adrian Bazbaz, who came up with the idea as a member of student government, says the rooms meet a demonstrated need. Without the nap rooms, students just "put their backpacks on the table and lie on them," he says.

According to Christopher Lindholst—founder of MetroNaps, a company which produces specialized napping pods—the product is increasingly popular on college campuses.  "We are seeing a lot of interest, in particular, from large universities, those with significant commuter student bodies, and graduate medical institutions," he says.

The pods are ergonomic, equipped with built-in timers, and provide students with a degree of privacy.  

James Madison University has also created a nap room. Since installing it in Sept. 2013—complete with antimicrobial pillows and microsuede bean bags—students have taken more than 2,500 naps.

Benefits for student health and achievement

Getting adequate sleep is essential to preserve cognitive performance, especially for the fast-paced, sleep-deprived college student, say experts.  "Napping is a survival mechanism for college," says Sara Mednick, assistant professor at the University of California, Riverside, and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life.

Naps recharge the brain in a way that coffee cannot, says Robert Stickgold, associate professor of psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School. While a cup of coffee may provide a short boost, he explains, "sleep is actually taking the recent information that you've learned and filing it away for you so you can more effectively take in new information."

An extra hour of sleep could increase your earnings by 16%, researchers say

Researchers agree. A recent study published in the journal Sleep found that sleep-deprived undergraduates received worse grades and were more likely to drop a course than their rested peers. Lack of sleep was also a stronger predictor than marijuana use of who would suffer academically.

For some, the case for nap rooms is a bit simpler. "No one wants to walk around and see people laying on the floor with their mouths open," says Glenn Wallace, SVP for university resources at Savannah College of Art and Design. His school bought four napping pods, and is planning to purchase more (Waxman, Time, 8/29).

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