November 29, 2004 The accelerated pace of working life is increasingly shaping social dynamics and forcing global culture to multi-task functions that were once constrained to the home. First there were tanning salons, then oxygen bars, and now, entrepreneurs in New York City have made a business of power napping, offering workers 20-minute naps in customised, futuristic-looking pods from a suite in the Empire State Building in a trend that could quickly spread worldwide.
MetroNaps founders Arshad Chowdhury and Christopher Lindholst spent several years researching power-naps, paying particular attention to sound and light. In response they designed a spherical, immersive pod type recliner that creates a semi-private acoustical and visual environment. The cocoon offers protective privacy without being overly enclosing. White noise or a choice of music can be piped through to stimulate a relaxed atmosphere, and the MetroNap service even includes an optional lunch that can be served on awakening. At US $14 a nap and only 20 minutes in duration, the service can be squeezed into even the busiest lunch hour and is proving a commercial success.
"A lot of people who come here, they say ... that they have been looking for a place like this. Sometimes they take naps in their office. For a lot of them it's about time something like this came" along, Lindholst told Wired magazine recently.
The response of business seems to be turning, with many companies sympathetic to power-naps and the benefits they can bring to overall productivity and efficiency when conducted in the right environment.
"Napping may protect brain circuits from overuse until those neurons can consolidate what's been learned about a procedure," says neuroscientist Robert Stickgold of Harvard Medical School, a coauthor of a study on napping.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) of America reports that the average adult sleeps under 7 hours a night during a work week. 33% of adults surveyed sleep only 61/2 hours nightly and 40% of adults admit that the quality of their work suffers when they're sleepy. Other respondants claimed that their ability to concentrate is diminished by sleepiness and that they have made mistakes and errors at work due to sleepiness. 33% of adults surveyed would nap at work, if allowed.
MetroNaps currently rents pods to companies in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey and plans to expand to new regions in the coming months.
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