May 20, 2014 at 1:00 am

University of Michigan library opens nap station for its students

Students can get a quick nap in at the napping station implemented at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library at the University of Michigan. (Allison Farrand / AP)

For students looking to get a quick nap in between exam preparations but who live too far away to do so, a new napping station implemented in the University of Michigan’s Shapiro Undergraduate Library could be the best alternative.

The idea of holding designated napping centers for University of Michigan students first came up in a Central Student Government meeting in mid-February, proposed by engineering junior Adrian Bazbaz, a CSG representative. He noticed many students would doze off at night while studying in the 24-hour libraries on campus and thought the best solution was to administer a location for these students to sleep, according to The Michigan Daily of Ann Arbor.

The new station, on the first floor of the library, currently holds several simple cots intended for 10- to 30-minute naps. These beds are not the ones originally ordered by student government, but the library and student organizers said they wanted to have something temporary in place during the exam period.

Stephen Griffes, university library information resources senior supervisor, said the library was happy to help CSG because of the successful ideas they have presented in the past, including the table sharing program in the Shapiro library to indicate when spaces at tables are available even when someone is working there.

He said the primary concerns for the library were the safety and security of sleeping students. In order to keep the station as clean and secure as possible, pillows with replaceable pillowcases and sanitary wipes have been made available. Organizers currently are working to set up spare lockers where students can secure their belongings while napping.

Because the napping station is in its pilot phase, Griffes said success or failure could not be determined before the end of the fall semester.

“So far, some days we see a lot of use, other times we don’t see a lot of use,” he said. “It’s really too early to tell because it hasn’t even been a full week yet, but so far the nappers who are napping there seem to be pretty content.”

Bazbaz said, for him, because of research he conducted in the course of implementing the stations, this is only the first step.

“The purpose for all of this is first to offer people who are tired a space where they can actually go and rest, and the second part is to really raise awareness of how sleep deprivation has such a negative impact on health overall,” said Bazbaz.

Bazbaz and sophomore Irene Suh, another CSG representative, consulted with neurology professor Shelley Hershner before implementing the program, who helped them survey 4,000 university students on campus about the proposed nap stations.

Of the students who received surveys, 500 submitted responses that were overwhelmingly in favor of having nap stations, and 96 percent of respondents felt fatigue was disrupting their performance.

Hershner, also the director of the Collegiate Sleep Disorders Clinic, had done research showing that 75 percent of university students frequently fall asleep while reading, which Bazbaz said was influential in the process as well, along with some research he did on his own linking sleep deprivation to poor academic performance, moodiness, and higher risk for diabetes.

With the napping station already underway, Suh and Bazbaz said the next step is to publicize the location both within and outside of campus. A picture of the napping station has already garnered over 50,000 likes on the image hosting website, Imgur, and Suh said she’s planning on fliers around campus.

Plans are also in the works to bring a second napping center to the Duderstadt Center on North Campus.

Suh said she hopes that the implementation of these napping stations will lead to a change in culture at the university around how students respond to sleep deprivation.

“We joke around here like, ‘How many hours of sleep did you get last night?’ and when it’s like four hours, that’s normal,” she said. “It’s just really strange how that’s the norm around here, that we only get four to six hours of sleep every night, if not less.”