Parenting

'Napping Pods' Encourage Teens to Nap at School

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Teenagers these days are under a lot of stress. With college placement getting increasingly more competitive, kids in high school are busier than ever trying to keep up in their advanced placement classes, get good grades, participate in extracurricular activities, and apply to college and for scholarships. That’s a lot for an adolescent to tackle, and it is coming at a price. Teens these days are getting, on average, far less sleep than they should be. Something’s got to give. And a few high schools in the country have potentially found the solution.

According to NPR:

Studies have shown teenagers actually need between nine and 10 hours of sleep a night. But the vast majority (69 percent) aren’t getting it.

Enter “napping pods.” They’re essentially egg-shaped lounge chairs that recline, with a circular lid that can be pulled over the chest to shield against light.

“It just sort of envelops you in a really nice darkness, with soft lighting behind you,” says [18-year-old Hannah] Vanderkooy, a frequent user of the pods. She says she typically gets only four to five hours of sleep a night.

There’s soft music playing in the pod and “you just feel extremely relaxed,” she says. The 20-minute experience is a wonderful “oasis” amid all the worry and stress of school, she says.

While nothing can really replace a good night’s sleep, a nap can be wonderful to boost memory, and even help with anxiety. Since most high schools begin their day as early as 7:30 a.m., teenagers aren’t getting the sleep they need to function properly. Schools that have invested in sleep pods are seeing positive results.

Several public schools in New Mexico are trying to tackle the problem by providing napping pods for their students.

“We know lack of sleep changes mood and makes you more anxious,” says family nurse practitioner Linda Summers, who is an associate professor at New Mexico State University’s school of nursing in Las Cruces.

Summers also works with the nearby Las Cruces High School health center, and has seen firsthand the effects of sleep deprivation on students there. So she decided to apply for a federal health grant to buy the pods, which, at the time, cost $14,000 each. They were installed in four high schools.

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“[Students] all felt more rested, happier and more in control of their emotions,” she says, “after just 20 minutes.” Summers now writes prescriptions for the nap pod for students who are anxious, angry or just plain sleepy.