If there was ever a wellness movement to get behind, it’s one of the latest and greatest: napping. In fact, nap centers (also called nap lounges) are popping up all over the country, offering to provide patrons with a much-needed opportunity to, well, snooze! While we’re only recently hearing about them, they’re nothing new, according to Michael Breus, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of the bestseller GOOD NIGHT: The Sleep Doctor’s 4-Week Program to Better Sleep and Better Health. “These are convenient, safe, quiet places for the early worker or traveler to take a quick nap,” he says.
Much like a gym membership, some of these centers charge by the half hour, while some offer monthly memberships for varying prices, according to certified sleep science coach and the founder of the sleep research site SleepZoo, Chris Brantner. “The designated pods are designed for complete privacy, only one person per pod, are soundproof and often feature white noise to help drown out background noise and aid someone to sleep,” he says. “They’re minimalist and dark, helping the eyes and mind relax so you can doze off more quickly.”
Sleep experts are all in favor of nap centers, especially given the demanding schedule most people keep up with in today’s day and age. “The average person gets well under the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep, and we are just now really starting to understand all the horrible things, both physical and mental, that sleep deprivation causes, so these nap centers fulfill a need for busy travelers and business people on their lunch breaks,” says Brantner. “It gives them a place to recharge throughout the day when they simply can’t run home for a nap, or can’t realistically take one elsewhere.”
What can you expect at a nap center? According to Brantner, going to a nap center can be similar to going to a spa — many of them have spa-like feels, and include things like comfortable lobbies, massage rooms and hot tea. “It may seem a bit strange at first, but you’ll notice it’s a very relaxing experience; however, if you’re claustrophobic, you may find the nap pods in some nap centers to be a bit constraining,” he adds.
Considering giving a nap center a try? Here are some expert-approved benefits.
Naps are totally natural and a great way to lower your sleep debt
“The ideal nap is 30 minutes of sleep, and if you nap around 3 pm or 4 pm it can even help as a memory and emotional refresh,” explains Benjamin Smarr, Ph.D., National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Berkeley and Reverie sleep advisory board member. In fact, he points out that there’s a small number of really robust studies that show napping is a completely natural part of the human condition. “As humans, we all feel tired around the same time of day, 2 to 4 pm, but this depends on many factors, due to age, health, exercise routine, etc., and it’s completely natural to want to get some rest during this period,” he says. “In fact, there’s research demonstrating that we’re actually our most effective in the late afternoon/evening time frame — so we’re actually robbing ourselves of productivity later in the day by not resting during this natural midday slump.”
They’re set up for sleep
When you go to a nap center, you’re there to take a nap, free of distraction, explains Brantner. “They’re crafted for relaxation and set the ideal environment for rest, which you won’t get in the office or oftentimes even at home.”
Nap centers are convenient
Nap centers are purposefully located in busy business districts or even airports, so that they serve patrons as conveniently as possible, particularly catering to those who may not be able to get home for rest.
You can book in small increments
Instead of paying for a hotel just to grab a nap, you can pay for the nap itself. “A nap center is a much more reasonable option for someone looking for a quick recharge,” says Brantner. They also help you keep a short nap time. “If you take a power nap, 10-20 minutes, you get a quick recharge and awake easily from light sleep, however, push it past the 30-minute mark or so and you’ll wake up during deep sleep stages and feel terrible,” he adds. “So the fact that you will typically purchase a sleep pod for 30 minutes helps keep you in that window.”
New York ClassPassers can book a “nap session” at The Dreamery by Casper — check it out!