This has been a big year for sleep at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The Shapiro Undergraduate Library cleared away some dusty and disposable books on the first floor and six cots were installed, offering weary students “a safe place for brief spells of restorative sleep,” or “naps,” as they are known in campus shorthand. These brief spells have been limited to 30 minutes, and the space, in a well-trafficked area on the first floor of Shapiro, was equipped with vinyl cots, disinfecting wipes, disposable pillowcases, and lockers.
This development was greeted with much joy on campus, as can be seen at @UmichNaps, a wrenching site showing the many odd places and ways that exhausted Michigan students had been falling asleep on campus, due to studying all night, or perhaps overcommitting to mid-week beer pong marathons. Library assistants say sleeping in the library is so common that they regularly have to tour the premises, checking on curled-up students to make sure they haven’t passed out or passed on.
Detractors observed that throwing out all those books so that students could sleep during the day was an unfortunate bit of symbolism, particularly since most students on this massive campus (though not commuters) already had safe places for brief spells of restorative sleep, usually known as “dorms.” Some wags argued that a restorative nap might be accompanied by a restorative snack next to each cot, and one student, not entirely serious, asked for a nearby pool for a restorative swim.
Last month, the university library started testing a MetroNaps EnergyPod (in English: a nap machine) that looks like a dental chair encased in a plastic egg and sells for just under $13,000. It can vibrate gently and wake you up slowly to soothing music. Google and several colleges have them. St. Leo College in Florida has installed them in dorms so commuters can use them and dorm-dwellers don’t have to go all the way upstairs to take a nap. After all, what is college without a $13,000 vibrating nap machine?