Nap pods give UA students a new way to relax, recharge and rejuvenate
A rested mind is such a necessity that The University of Akron (UA) is enabling students to get in some light sleep throughout the school day.
To help with that, the University has introduced four nap pods at three locations across campus for students to take 20-minute refresher naps to boost their moods, creativity and focus. UA is a leader in Ohio in providing this innovative mental health equipment to all students. Typically, on other campuses, access to nap pods is reserved for specific groups, such as student-athletes. But the same effect is intended – a positive boost to mental health.
“There are several research studies that highlight the correlation of mental health and sleep, so part of the intent to offer nap pods was to provide a unique mental health resource to our students,” said Ali Doehring, director of ZipAssist, who is leading the project. “We hope that students using these will benefit from an increased concentration in the classroom, a reduction of stress and a positive enhancement in their overall emotions.”
Each nap pod features a privacy visor, a built-in timer and specifically composed sleep music.
The pods are specially designed for snoozing. Each one features a privacy visor, a built-in timer and specifically composed sleep music. The visor rotates to provide privacy and darkness and the seat and footrest recline. The light settings can be adjusted, and users can connect their own music or soothing sounds via Bluetooth. At the end of the nap, the pod wakes up the user with a gentle but effective combination of light, sound and vibration.
Students have three locations to recharge on the UA campus:
- Student Recreation and Wellness Center, located near the leisure pool in a private space
- Simmons Hall, in the first-floor lobby
- Bierce Library, in the STEAM Lounge, Room 152B
“I think the nap pods are a great addition to campus,” said Olivia Nigro, a senior whose major is education. “I was skeptical about them at first, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed my 20-minute power nap. It's really cool seeing this kind of technology being used at the University, especially in a way that benefits students and their mental health.”
Each pod location will have a mental health resource nook, readings, motivational quotes and flyers for campus and community resources. There will also be a QR code that directs users to a quick survey to help inform future programs and resources.
“After trying out the nap pods in Simmons Hall, I felt more relaxed and ready for the rest of my day,” said senior Meganne Chapman, who’s majoring in civil engineering. “I really like how the pods have many options to choose from, especially a guided relaxation. This helps me focus and allows my body to fully relax. As an engineering student, I can definitely see myself using these again in the future.”
The light settings in the nap pods can be adjusted, and users can connect their own music or soothing sounds via Bluetooth.
The pods were purchased by a grant funded by the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Funds through the Ohio Department of Higher Education (ODHE) to support behavioral health on Ohio college and university campuses.
“As we assessed our recent programs, resources and services, the nap pods were identified as an innovative and unique way to directly provide a solution to support our students,” Doehring said. “We know the correlations between sleep deprivation and mental health, and these nap pods seemed like a perfect solution.”
“This is just another way that The University of Akron is providing support to its students,” added John Messina, Ed.D., vice president of Student Affairs. “As we strive for a continued improvement of the learning environment, I think our Zips will find the nap pods beneficial to their overall wellbeing. We hope to serve as a leading institution that is finding creative approaches to help our students be successful.”
The pods are available during regular operating hours. For now, UA’s nap pods are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations may be required during peak demand.
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