Falling asleep at your job is not usually considered a good thing, but a growing number of companies are embracing the benefits of napping at work. Sleep deprivation is a national problem, with 35% of Americans regularly sleeping less than seven hours a night and nearly 40% of employees reporting workplace fatigue. These statistics translate into a big problem for businesses: exhausted workers are less productive, costing over $136 billion annually in lost productivity. Luckily, midday napping has been shown to help employees feel more alert , as well as offer many other performance benefits .
Having seen the statistics on fatigue and napping, some businesses have made it a point to offer their employees places to get some rest. These places can take the form of a nap room with comfortable beds or couches, but some companies — including tech companies like Google and traditional employers like law firms — have chosen to use nap pods.
What Are Nap Pods?
Nap pods are large pieces of furniture meant to offer people the quiet, comfortable privacy they need to take a refreshing nap in a busy work environment. Some versions also provide timers, speakers for calming music, and other details.
Most nap pods follow one of two designs. The first resembles Japan’s capsule hotels, with individual bed-sized compartments for nappers. These pods usually have a mattress and a pillow and allow people to lay down. The second style pairs a comfortable, ergonomic C-shaped lounger with a large dome that covers the head for darkness and privacy. While less like a traditional bed, these loungers have a zero-gravity design that is more comfortable to sleep in than a conventional recliner.
How Do Nap Pods Work?
Unless you’re so exhausted that just resting on your desk will lull you into sleep, it can be difficult to nap in environments like the workplace. Nap pods offer several features that may make it easier for employees to nap during the workday:
- Low-Light Environment: Light exposure has a strong effect on our circadian rhythms and plays a significant role in determining when we feel tired and when we fall asleep. Many people struggle to fall asleep in bright environments, so nap pods provide a dark place suitable for sleeping.
- Ergonomic Support: Aches and pains can occur in response to how you sleep. Sleeping at your desk or even on a couch may leave you with a sore back or an aching neck, but nap pods are designed to support you while you sleep.
- Timing: Most people find a 20-minute long nap increases alertness and improves their mood without taking too much time or leaving them too groggy to work. Nap pods with timers offer a quiet wake-up without having to set an alarm that may disrupt your colleagues. EnergyPods, for example, use both vibration and soft sounds to wake sleepers up.
- Soothing Sounds: Although not all nap pods provide white noise or sleep music speakers, those that do can tap into white noise’s ability to help people fall asleep easier in noisy or busy environments.
What Companies Use Nap Pods?
While some smaller businesses provide nap pods for their employees, the high cost means nap pods are more popular with large tech companies. Nap pods are also growing in popularity among other kinds of employers, such as the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.
Facebook’s Seattle and London campuses feature capsule-style nap pods by Podtime , a London-based nap pod manufacturer. The pods have a mattress and pillow inside for a more bed-like feel. They also enclose more of the body than the lounger-style pods.
The Huffington Post
Online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos has a unique nap room. Instead of using standard pods, the company’s Las Vegas workplace features massage chairs surrounded by a custom-built aquarium . Called “The Tank” at Zappos, the aquarium is 25 feet long, holds 3,500 gallons of saltwater, and is home to fish and coral. It wraps over the massage chairs, allowing employees the chance to gaze up at the water until they doze off.
The National Health Service (NHS)
The National Health Service (NHS) is the United Kingdom’s publicly-funded health system. Fatigue is common among medical professionals and can have a serious effect on their performance, making rest a priority for the NHS. Since 2018, some NHS hospitals have installed nap pods in the hope of reducing employee fatigue. They have proven a success, particularly during night shifts, and nap pods continue to be added to more NHS hospitals .