News / Calgary

University of Calgary to introduce a designated room for naps this fall

Pillow-talk was all the rage during recently wrapped student elections at the University of Calgary. But it's not what you think.

Kirsty McGowan, soon to take the role of vice-president student life at the campus Students' Union, said she'd noticed a lot of weary-eyed peers over her past four years of doing a double degree in English and communications.

"A lot of students talk about how little sleep they got the night before and wear it kind of like a medal, and I thought, 'Hey, that's probably not good,' " she recalled.

McGowan began investigating potential remedies ahead of her vice-president campaign and settled on a cozy option already adopted by a number institutions south of the border as well as big-name companies like Google — nap rooms.

This November, the That Empty Space room on campus will be filled with mattresses and pillows and students will be invited to stop in for 30-50 minute snooze. McGowan's already consulted about the offering with student representatives at Ontario's Brock University, which hosts nap and puppy rooms as part of its annual Wellness Week.

Rooms filled with furred friends to pet was a concept introduced at U of C by one of McGowan's predecessors, Ben Cannon, and largely credited with helping steer him into the student life role during 2013 elections.

There is a long line of studies detailing the importance of naps and the positive benefits to people's mental well-being. A recent offering from the Decartes University in Paris found just 30 minutes of mid-day shut-eye can mitigate the negative hormonal impact of a entire night of tossing and turning.

Debbie Bruckner, director of the U of C's Wellness Centre, said a 2013 health assessment conducted on campus found 45 per cent of students identify feelings of sleepiness as a problem during the day. With that in mind, she said the centre would likely vouch for McGowan's nap room.

"We know that there are number of benefits to sleeping well and looking into ways to improve student sleep would certainly be something we'd support," Bruckner said.

On a personal level, McGowan said she generally budgets her time well and squeezes in eight hours of sleep a night. She knows, however, that's hardly the case for many of her peers.

"Obviously, the affordability of education is forcing more students to work part-time," she said. "There's a lot of school-related deadlines and balancing all those things along with extra-curricular activities can be quite stressful. So, I think sleep is often put on the back-burner and that's something that nap rooms are hopefully going to change.

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