If you have been to the gym lately, you may have noticed two large, white contraptions near the entrance. 

Those are nap pods, the latest addition to the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness and part of the University’s strategic plan for wellbeing.

“There’s been a lot of interest on campus about mindfulness and well-being,” Tom Roberts, Associate Vice President of Recreation and Wellness, said. “We’ve been studying the best practices for the last four years. One of the things we’ve learned is that one of the top issues that affect students’ academic performance is sleep.”

Recently, there have been many conversations about mindfulness and wellness on the UR campus, and many groups are promoting meditation. The Weinstein Center saw the nap pods as an opportunity to contribute to this movement, Roberts said. 

A growing number of college campuses across the United States are implementing relaxing rooms and amenities as a way to help underslept students. 

James Madison University has had a Nap Nook since 2013, Cal State University Northridge has their own “oasis” and Virginia Tech recently bought the same nap pods as the University of Richmond. 

Napping for just 20 minutes a day can be beneficial for a quick energy boost, and the nap pods purchased by the Weinstein Center are well-equipped for that. But they also are intended to communicate something stronger to the student body, Roberts said.

“A lot of it is more about the messaging and education of students to understand the value and importance of sleep,” Roberts said. “I hope that somebody would use a nap pod and get that little power nap out of it. But to me, it’s more important about the message to them and educating them that sleep is important.”

The nap pods are temporarily located in Weinstein until further notice. 

Photo courtesy of Patty Blaze

I took the liberty of trying the nap pods for myself. 

The concept of crawling into what looks like a giant massage chair is strange at first, but once you close the privacy screen and lean back, you immediately feel relaxed.

The pod reclines back then begins playing music for the 20 minute napping session. 

A wind chime ballad began for me, then transitioned into ocean sounds. While I didn’t actually fall asleep, it was nice to take a few minutes out of my day to simply relax. If you do happen to fall asleep, you do not have to worry about sleeping for an hour and running late to your next class. Around the last minute of your session, the pod begins playing uplifting piano music to slowly wake you up along with the radiating light.

Maribel Sabino, sophomore, said she enjoys using the nap pods and thinks they will be beneficial to the University community.

“In college we’re always on-the-go and always busy, and I think the nap pods remind people who walk into the gym that sleep is important,” Sabino said. “It’s a part of mental and physical health and reminds people to take a break and get sleep.”

Contact lifestyle writer Sydney Collins at sydney.collins@richmond.edu.

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