March 4, 2013
One Harvard University student is seeking to make the school's campus more sleep friendly by advocating for a nap room in the 24-hour Lamont Library. Sophomore Yuqi Hou, 19, proposed the idea in January via the university's online petition tool, "We the Crimson", USA Today reported. Having received 191 in-favor votes from Hou's fellow students, the idea is currently being considered by Dean Evelynn Hammonds who reviews the top three "We the Crimson" proposals for each month.
"College life shouldn't be full of late-night study sessions and last-minute all-nighters, but oftentimes it is," Hou said in USA Today. "The least we can do is accommodate for something that is already going on."
The nap room, likely to debut next year, would be dimly lit and contain curtained sections, each with a cushion. Students with a Harvard ID could sign in with the room moderator, indicate their estimated nap duration, check out a blanket and pillow and store their belongings in a locker.
Hou was motivated by an online survey she conducted of 432 Harvard undergraduates that showed 79 percent felt they didn't get sufficient sleep and 60 percent supported a nap room, Red Alert Politics noted.
"Most students operate daily on a sleep deficit, to the detriment of their health and productivity," Hou told The Boston Globe. "For those getting insufficient sleep at night, naps can provide alertness and help students take a break from their hectic schedules."
Due to a lack of an official space designated for napping, students often snooze in the library, a "stigmatized" activity, Hou said in USA Today. For example, some students have found Tumblr images of themselves sleeping in Harvard's Lamont Library.
"Napping in the nap room wouldn't be embarrassing," she added. "It'd be the norm."
Hou is collaborating with students and administration to work out potential issues, such as a location, privacy and sanitation. USA Today reports that the school will be instituting a pilot program in the next two months, consisting of a day-long "nap-in" for students and staff alike to participate in and discuss the benefits of resting in a designated nap room. According to The Huffington Post, the only college with an official nap center is the University of Colorado-Boulder, which created its "Siesta" room in 2009.
As a next-best approach, Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., the University of California, Davis and the University of Texas each developed nap maps revealing ideal, on-campus places to snooze, USA Today noted. UT's nap spot locator, for example, is Google Maps-based and highlights 17 locations, each with a description and photo. Hou said she plans to create her own nap map for Harvard until an official nap room is established.
Emily Lowe, co-director of Harvard's Happiness Project, said that as the nap room concept evolves, she hopes it will alter other schools' thoughts about sleep.
"I think nap rooms expanding to other colleges really depends on how it works for us," she said. "People do look at Harvard, and Harvard can take that position to lead as an example."
Compiled by Doresa Banning
"Harvard Nap Room Under Consideration After Student's Petition Finds Support," huffingtonpost.com, February 22, 2013, Tyler Kingkade
"Harvard student hopes to open campus nap room," bostonglobe.com, February 22, 2013, Colin A. Young
"Harvard University may create nap room for students," redalertpolitics.com, February 25, 2013, Laura Byrne
"On-campus nap room proposed at Harvard," usatodayeducate.com, March 3, 2013, Stephanie Haven