Universities could use a good place to sleep

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e’ve both seen, and probably been, that person: head down, slightly drooling over your notebook or laptop, trying to catch a bit of shut-eye on that cold, hard countertop.

Not only are there heaps of empirical data on the benefits of napping, but as a napper myself, I feel refreshed and optimistic after dozing for 20 to 30 minutes. As such, and because of the benefits they provide, I fully support work- and school-place nap rooms.

Recently, the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) introduced a nap room at its campus, where students can book an hour slot in a room with mats and pillows. This isn’t a new idea, as technology giants like Apple and Google have introduced similar features in their work environments. However, at the time, it had yet to be seen in a post-secondary institution in BC.

The National Sleep Foundation’s research demonstrates that to take a nap for 20 to 30 minutes can improve alertness and performance without affecting nighttime sleep.

Some of us may actually benefit more than others from napping, too. Over 85 percent of mammalian species are polyphasic sleepers, which means they sleep in short intervals during the day. Humans are said to be monophasic, meaning that we generally partition our days into sleeping during one time and being awake during another. But are we all fully monophasic? Small children and the elderly often nap during the day, so why aren’t more adults getting in on it, too? A short nap never hurt anyone.

Napping may also be of economic value; instead of loading up on costly caffeinated beverages for an energy boost, one could simply recharge the old-fashioned way. Not only would napping save money on coffee or Redbull, but it’s probably a lot healthier than drinking either excessively.

Now, I understand that SFU’s new Student Union Building plans to have a napping room, which is great, albeit still a few years away. But imagine how awesome it would be if all universities and colleges did the same. Instead of having to put your head down on a hard desk, or pass out in some contorted position on a chair in the library, we could all have a quiet room equipped with comfortable bedding designated solely for sleep.

The fact is that course schedules don’t always line up perfectly. In my time at university, there have been days where I’ve had six hour breaks in between classes. While the majority of my time is obviously best spent studying, I could also use part of it to catch up on sleep. Universities could even turn a profit on it: I’d pay a dollar or two for a snooze on some comfortable bedding in a quiet room.

SFU has adopted other stress relief practices such as puppy therapy, but we still have room to improve the mental and physical health of everyone, and SFU as well as other universities should follow BCIT’s lead — and fast — to create a comfortable environment in which students can recharge in a practical way.