University of Maryland students want on-campus 'nap stations'

- Do college students benefit from naps between classes? Some University of Maryland students are pushing for their school to be the next college to offer on-campus “nap stations,” to give students a chance to power nap between classes.

According to an article published in The Diamondback, the University of Maryland’s independent student newspaper, the UMD Student Government Association plans to revisit a bill next semester that proposes a pilot program for napping stations in the student union. The paper reported “A Resolution Supporting a Napping Station” was originally scheduled for a vote at the November 30 meeting, but a spokesperson for the Student Government Association tells FOX 5 those plans are on hold while more research is done about health and wellness benefits and the financial feasibility of napping stations.

The proposal comes after students living off campus complained they were at a disadvantage if they need to take a nap during the day, but can’t get home to do it. Some students who rely on public transportation to get to and from school told the paper they have limited options for getting midday rest.

If they do eventually become a feature on campus, students who use the napping pods would be limited to 30-minute naps. SGA leaders would call on school officials to finance the napping stations through the university’s student facilities fund, which is an account built by the student-paid auxiliary fee.

The University of Maryland wouldn’t be the first to offer napping stations on campus. At the University of Miami, sleep-deprived, stressed-out students have access to two nap pods, which cost $9,000 each to purchase. They’re even decked out in school colors. In a recent article, the Miami Herald described the nap pods as something that “looks like a prop from a science fiction movie or may the mutant offspring of a dentist chair and old-fashioned hair dryer.”

Photo credit: University of Miami

It was UM’s former Vice President of Student Government Ish Singh who pushed for the pods, claiming that naps lead to better mental health and boost productivity—and are especially good for students who don’t live nearby. A massage chair was also purchased ($20,000) for students to relax in.

There are rules, though. UM students are limited to 20 minutes of shuteye per session, and they must wipe down the chairs with disinfectant after they’re used. Food and drinks are not allowed, and if they’re sick, students are asked to nap elsewhere.

Photo credit: University of Miami

Cal State University’s Northridge campus is home to six “nap pods” (officially called EnergyPods by the manufacturer) at a price tag of $8,500 each. A spokeswoman told FOX 5 they were added in an effort to help students overcome difficulties with sleep and stress, which were negatively affecting their academic performance. The university’s student union decided to create a space for napping, which is housed in the on-campus wellness center. There is also a fully-accessible resting bed, for those that prefer that option.

Photo credit: Cal State University, Northridge

A CSNU spokeswoman said the limit on nap times was 20 minutes, but it was later extended to 45 minutes. During the fall 2015 semester, 3,800 power naps were taken in the university’s “Relaxation Room.”

In 2013, the University of Michigan introduced napping stations in campus libraries. But a University of Michigan spokesperson told FOX 5 in a statement that the program had to be discontinued.

"We had napping stations in place for final exams at the end of 2013 and into early 2014, then piloted the EnergyPod in the first half of 2014. According to fire code, the napping area needed to be in an enclosed room and we were not able to accommodate that requirement," said spokesman Rick Fitzgerald.

James Madison University’s “Nap Nook” is still in operation, and according to a spokesperson for the university, it’s quite popular. It started as a result of one JMU student’s research.

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