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.
Best not to linger on the need for disinfectant wipes. Or instructions to “wipe down the cot when you are done.”
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… already had safe places for brief spells of restorative sleep, usually known as “dorms.”
However, even these comforts may be insufficient for our awfully fatigued thinkers of tomorrow. And so,
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.
The EnergyPod comes with a hemispherical privacy visor “for additional seclusion,” an adjustable timer, and speakers, from which you’ll hear “specially devised rhythms to facilitate relaxation.”
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?
If $13,000 vibrating nap machines sound a tad indulgent, it’s worth bearing in mind that the University of Michigan was noted here previously for hiking tuition, pledging fiscal responsibility, then spending $400,000 to relocate one tree.
Photographic evidence of Michigan’s sleep-deprived students and the terrible crushing pressures of academic life can be found here. Readers are advised that some scenes may be distressing.
Be strong. Take tissues.