Sleep pods are revolutionizing the way we nap, and ultimately, the way we live. These sleek, stylish, and often high-tech pieces of furniture are popping up everywhere: in airports, universities, offices, and even in homes with actual functional bedrooms.
But why would anyone need a sleep pod when most of the people who use them have perfectly serviceable beds, you ask? The answer lies in the complexities of modern living.
Can you remember when you had a full night of restful sleep? Chances are, it’s been a while.
Studies across the globe find that fewer and fewer people are getting enough rest. In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) report that 1 in 3 adults are meeting the recommended amount of sleep. In the UK, nearly a third of the population has reported having insomnia, and almost two-thirds (roughly 67% as of 2017) report having their sleep disrupted.
The same pattern repeats itself in Japan, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, India, and the Philippines. It’s become so prevalent that in a UK-based study involving 48 countries, they recorded not a single one to have a population that averaged the recommended 8 hours of sleep.
And we have our 24/7, always-plugged-in, get-go lifestyle to blame for it.
Over the past few decades, “sleep” has evolved into a dirty word. People brag about being able to function on five, four, even three hours of rest, claiming that this made them more efficient and competent workers.
People even developed a habit of “stealing” hours that they should allocate to rest instead of work. What’s worse, corporations and popular culture rewarded this behavior with approval and encouragement.
Soon, it was our new regular. Late nights and even all-nighters at work became badges of honor.
However, this modern “win-at-all-costs culture” has pushed many of us to the brink of breaking, with it becoming more and more common for dedicated employees to collapse from exhaustion, suffer breakdowns, or fall victim to stress-related illnesses.
People are indeed working harder, longer, but with a considerable negative impact on their well-being.
Recently, health and wellness practitioners have been more outspoken about the effects of a lack of sleep so much so that corporations and schools have listened and taken action.
In an interview with the Financial Times e-zine, Lawrence Epstein, the director of the sleep medicine fellowship program at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, spoke about the dangers of placing a value on the habit of making do with little sleep. He welcomed seeing nap pods in offices and also recommended that companies integrate sleep wellness into their wellness programs if any.
"Until fairly recently, sleep wellness was missing from most wellness programs — they focused on diet, weight, exercise, and smoking cessation. That’s been unfortunate because of the major contribution that sleep makes to health and wellness,” Epstein says.
Epstein cited how sleepy and sluggish workers impact productivity. He also mentioned how insomnia might well be costing industries in the US somewhere in the ballpark of $100B, once you factor in how drowsiness contributes to reduced productivity, workplace accidents, health conditions that lead to healthcare claims, and absenteeism.
Despite the hard facts only coming to light as recently as a decade ago, Science has not been silent with the benefits of sleep or the dangers of lacking it. Here are a few reasons that should at least make a point for you to get enough Zs:
While in repose, your body conducts repairs. It directs energy and resources towards regenerating cells, repairing blood vessels, muscles, and organs.
Therefore, a good night’s rest after a punishing workout is essential in avoiding sore muscles and cramps. Better sleep habits reduce the risk of organ-specific illnesses such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
While you dream, your body floods your bloodstream with chemicals and hormones that strengthen your immune system. It also produces additional white blood cells to fight off infections.
Research has determined a close link between mental health and sleep habits. Too little rest can easily tip you over the edge and into despair and depression.
As you snooze, there is a drop in your heart rate, your conscious brain activity, and blood pressure, all of which are always on rollercoaster mode while you’re awake. Your brain releases hormones to relax you, and your entire body takes a break from reacting to all the stress and stimuli around you.
Just like plugging in your smartphone to charge, sleep revitalizes your system. Research has proven that a short nap of only 20-30 minutes improves judgment, alertness, energy levels, memory, cognitive performance, and mood.
Taking that into consideration, many large companies have built nap rooms on office premises. Tech and progressive companies such as Google, NASA, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Zappos have invested in sleep pods.
Soon, over less than five years, other institutions followed suit. Most notably, schools and universities.
Sleepy pods have also become big business: innovative gyms and wellness centers offer them to clients, airports have sections where worn-out passengers can catch up on their rest, capsule hotels have offered napping schedules, and even nap centers are popping up in major cities.
A mall in Dubai has sleep pods. Several universities in the USA and UK have them. They are so popular that there are those for home use.
Sleep pods are tech-laden beds that fit one person and provide the ideal environment for catching a quick snooze before bouncing back to work.
They are typically spherical or with rounded corners, and they feature a comfy but not too soft mattress. They piped in white noise or calming music, and they have the means to block the light. Some even have fans to keep you cool and a way to adjust the reclining angle of your snooze pod. Most come equipped with noise-canceling features like padded walls or earphones, and a vibrational or light alarm to wake you up gently.
Sleep pods can cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. However, those who use them think that they are worth their weight in gold.
We want to exhibit a few models of this revolutionary device that is helping change the way people think of the concept of sleeping on the job.
Who would have thought you would need a room inside a room to sleep? The makers of the HOHM sleep pod did, and they set out to make it.
Born in the garage of founder and CEO Nikolas Woods, the HOHM snooze pods resulted from the local entrepreneurial spirit and manufactured right in the USA. Measuring a comfortable, cozy 43.5 square feet, the HOHM contains a twin size bed, with a comfortable mattress and pillow, charging ports, a fan, lights, shoe pads, and sound dampening walls and curtains for a peaceful journey to slumberland.
The University of Arizona installed the first few units, and they were available for a lease online for 30 minutes up to four hours.
An attendant watches over the pods in use. These attendants clean the sleep pods, register users, and ensure that only one person uses them at a time.
A stylish Finnish concept, the GoSleep Pod, looks more like a cocoon than any other model in the market. They’re already welcome additions to a lot of airports, most notably the Abu Dhabi airport in UAE.
Instead of a cot with a mattress, the GoSleep Pod is a comfortable reclining chair. When cozily situated, the user can then choose to “close up” their pod and retreat to their own private space.
Thus, the napping pods provide users with privacy and silence any time within a usually hectic environment. Beautifully designed, it has storage units underneath that equip the sleek and stylish unit for hand-carried luggage, has plenty of ventilation, and has a privacy shade.
The units also have USB chargers and sockets for charging personal devices.
For cleanliness, they clean the pods between guest usage, and guests get their pillowcase.
The Sleepbox is a sleepy pod that was ahead of the curve, conceptualized almost a decade ago and first installed at the Aeroexpress terminal of Sheremetyevo International Airport, Moscow, Russia, on August 2011.
Conceptualized as a micro-hotel, the compact sleep pod is MDF wood, metal, and glass-reinforced plastic. Meant to be the tight spots to sleep in even in public, they appear in airports, train stations, expo halls, and even in malls.
You can set up Sleepbox anywhere since it is self-sufficient and completely enclosed. Its units can even work outdoors if the weather is mild enough.
A standard Sleepbox measures 2.5 x 1.6 meters at its base and has a height of 2.5 to 3 meters, but the size varies depending on how many a unit can accommodate. The manufacturers have models from one-bed up to three-bed models.
You can rent each unit for as little as 30 minutes and up to several hours. It depends on how much time a traveler needs. Some people at airports have layovers that are several hours long, and the Sleepbox gives them their much-needed privacy and comfort before they begin the next leg of their trip.
Unlike most commercial nap pods, the Sleepbox is moderately customizable. Every unit has the typical features of power outlets, luggage storage space, essential LED lighting and reading lamps, mobile phone chargers, electric privacy blinds, and ventilation vents.
Add-on features include LED mood lighting that changes color to suit a user’s preference, windows with a film that changes transparency, a media block with a TV or a touch-screen monitor, an alarm, an intercom system, a WiFi router, and a safety-deposit box.
The PodTime sleep pod has a more practical design than the previously mentioned brands, with a white, cylindrical body with a band of black borders.
There are two models available: Standard and Premium. Both have the essential features the brand offers: sliding doors that open to a spacious, comfortable chamber equipped with a mattress, LED lights, and a storage shelf.
The Premium Sleep Pod has a mattress that comes in a selection of 15 colors and an optional S-style frame for the same bed. It is also significantly large, unlike the standard version, giving the additional comfort of space.
Additions are available. Buyers can avail of optional features such as a TV or additional sections.
A PodTime Standard model will set you back £3395+VAT (roughly USD 3795.3 before taxes) while the Premium model would cost £4895+VAT (approximately USD 5472.17).
The most compact and sleekest of the sleep pods in the market, the Energy Pod by Metronap, is iconic. Claiming to be the world's first chair designed for napping in the workplace, it combines innovative tech with luxurious comfort and modern yet timeless design.
The maker shaped the mattress so that it elevates your feet to relax muscles in the lower back, and a sphere attached to the bed can swivel closed to give you the privacy you need to catch some shuteye.
The maker equipped the Energy Pod with firmware that allows sleepers a deep sleep and a gentle waking. The user selects the time, programs it into the pod, and the sleep pod wakes them up when time is up.