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Algonquin College recently installed two nap pods on campus. Photo: Tristain Pollard.

Universities should take steps to help fight student sleep deprivation

Recently, Algonquin College has taken an unprecedented step towards helping its students succeed—buying nap pods.

While these spherical lounge chairs might seem like something from the future—or Google—it’s about time post-secondary education woke up to the benefits of helping students nap on campus.

Currently, the only real option for a productive siesta on campus is passing out in the library with your face in a book, which is less than ideal.

Even though buying nap pods would be a large expense for the university, with one device costing anywhere from $8,000 to $13,000, the considerable benefits outweigh the costs.

After all, not getting enough sleep can be a serious problem, especially for university students.

Not least of these issues is impaired cognitive abilities—which is a problem if you’re trying to write a 20-page essay, or learn differential calculus.

Sleep deficit can also contribute to the onset of mental health disorders, and for students already suffering from anxiety or mood disorders a full night’s sleep can be rare. Since a quarter of university-age Canadians will experience mental illness, nap pods are ideal for this demographic, and encouraging extra sleep may even help prevent certain mental illnesses from becoming worse.

Lack of sleep also compromises your immune system, and being sick only makes it harder to succeed in school. Another fun fact: sleep deprivation magnifies the effects of alcohol on the body, which is something students don’t really need.

A simple solution to these issues is getting a little shut-eye. Even short naps can help counteract the drop in cognitive ability and weakening of the immune system, as well as reduce stress levels—always a boon as finals season approaches.

But wait a second, why can’t students just go home to sleep? Well, even though there are students who live on or near campus, there are many others who need to commute.

With such busy schedules, many such students also can’t take the time to go home and back to school on top of attending classes, doing homework, working, attending extracurricular activities, or even being a parent. Leaving school to nap often isn’t an option, meaning it’s left out of students’ schedules entirely.

But why do students need to nap? They can just sleep at night, right? Well, most students know that between studying and doing assignments in the evening and waking up early for morning classes, a good night’s sleep is more of a cute idea than an actual possibility.

But remember, while many students won’t have time to leave campus to nap and come back, what most students do have is blocks of empty time on campus in between classes. This is why having nap pods on campus is actually ideal, since gaps between students’ classes will leave an ideal time for rest, without wasting time travelling.

Now, as mentioned before, this will require a heavy investment on the part of universities and colleges everywhere. However, if these bodies are willing to invest in computers and online programs to better the student experience, why not invest in technology that will improve their productivity in other ways, like getting more sleep?

When you consider the benefits to health and cognition, nap pods, as silly as they may sound, emerge as a very viable option for universities to improve the lives of their students.

And that’s nothing to yawn about.