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Dream come true: Napping pods for stranded travelers

October 26, 2017
Minute Suites

Extreme weather, canceled flights and other traveler afflictions at airports can leave people stranded for hours or even through the night. If you have ever tried napping or trying to get a night’s sleep in an airport terminal, you know that only the most resilient and deepest of sleepers can get any meaningful shut-eye in that environment. The good news is there are companies trying to ameliorate the problem with the introduction of airport napping pods to give stranded travelers a fighting chance to enter the Land of Nod.

Several companies that manufacture the sleeping modules and are angling for space in the world’s airports. Bloomberg recently reported the names of four companies battling for precious airport terminal space.

Minute Suites LLC has retail sleep locations at airports in Atlanta, Dallas and Philadelphia.

izZzleep, opened a “sleep capsule warren” in the Mexico City airport, according to Bloomberg, and charges users $8 per hour or $34 for the night.

Yotel Ltd., a London-based retailer, has space in four European airports, and has ambitions to expand into U.S. airports.

NapCity Americas, another competitor, has bought U.S. rights to Napcabs, a German-based sleep pod company. Currently, NapCity is operating at Munich Airport.

Napping pod companies are not competing on extravagance, as their units can be as little as a mattress in a contained space, though the latest designs being marketed to airports in the United States are considerably larger than the pods’ earlier iterations, and those used in Asia and Europe.

“We have a very Americanized model of what there is available overseas,” Christopher Glass, a vice president with Minute Suites, told Bloomberg. “We as Americans love our space.”

The sleep pod business model is not just for those unexpectedly stranded in airport terminals, it’s also for the traveler looking to recharge with a power nap during a long layover, or airline pilots and cabin crew members wanting to energize before their next flight.

The health benefits of napping have long been heralded, especially because so many of us fail to get enough nightly hours of sleep. Indeed, the Nation Sleep Foundation says 85 percent of mammals are “polyphasic sleepers,” meaning they sleep for short periods throughout the day. Humans are part of the minority of “monophasic sleepers,” meaning that our days are divided into two distinct periods, one for sleep and one for wakefulness. Interestingly, sleep researchers are not convinced that is the natural sleep pattern of humans. Young children and the elderly nap are inveterate nappers, and napping is a common practice in many cultures.

The Sleep Foundation also notes there are indications that sleep deprivation among U.S. citizens is become worse. Meanwhile, our busy lifestyles are keeping us from integrating napping into our daily lives. Three types of napping are detailed by the Sleep Foundation — planned napping, emergency napping and habitual napping.

Planned napping involves taking a nap before you get sleepy, a technique useful when a you know you will be up later than normal bed time.

Emergency napping occurs when you are suddenly extremely tired and cannot continue your activities. This can be critical when fatigue strikes while driving, or operating any kind of potentially dangerous machinery.

Habitual napping is when a person takes a nap the same time each day.

The benefits of napping are many. They can restore alertness, enhance performance and reduce mistakes and accidents. The Sleep Foundation cites a NASA study of military pilots and astronauts that found that a 40-minute nap improved performance by 34 percent and alertness by 100 percent. Napping has psychological benefits, facilitating relaxation and mental clarity.

For travelers, planned or emergency napping can rescue a trip and help ensure that business meetings or recreational activities live up to their potential. Airport napping pods might be just what a traveler needs in a pinch.

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