University of Michigan Opens Official Napping Area in Library
While traditionally, libraries are seen as places to study, the University of Michigan has addressed the issue of students sleeping in the library by opening an official area where students can nap. Officials of the University of Michigan say that libraries are supposed to be stations for learning—and sleep deprivation, especially in the college setting, is one of the most common blockades to learning. The new napping areas opened last month, right before finals week and are currently up and running. The nap area is expected to be full again this coming month, with finals and summer term coming up.
The idea for the official napping area was proposed by Engineering junior Adrian Bazbaz, a Central Student Government (CSG) representative. Being an engineer-in-the-making, Mr. BazBaz himself is one of the 24-hour library’s most avid visitors. On trips there, he noticed that a lot of kids would fall asleep on the desks or would end up lying down on the floor, between the shelves.
The napping area, located on the first floor of the library are intended for 10 to 30 minute naps. Currently, there are cots in place—these are not the original beds ordered by the CSG but they wanted to open the napping area in time for finals week, so these will remain until the better beds arrive. Every cot rented out will come with a locker where kids can keep their things; this locked comes with wipers with which they can wipe down the cot, to ensure good personal hygiene.
The CSG took a survey of 4,000 students who all said that sleep deprivation was one of their biggest problems and that the place where they went to rest most often was the library—sometimes, this “rest” was involuntary and they would end up falling asleep while they were studying. For the project to be credible, they brought in the expertise of Shelley Hershner, M.D. who is an expert in sleep science and research. Her studies influenced the gravity and quality of the CSG pitch, solidifying the argument that sleep is a necessity to the students’ physical and mental health. The nap space hopes to educate students about the dangers of sleep deprivation and how pulling all-nighters can be detrimental to their health and capacity for learning.
Adrian Bazbaz says that since the University aims to educate students in all aspects of life and steer them away from things which might hurt them, this is naturally the next step to take. He says that there are countless ongoing campaigns for the dangers of alcohol and drugs and so there should be something to warn against sleep deprivation which heightens the risks for stroke and lowers a person’s immunity significantly. Sleep is one of the body’s basic needs—it would be ludicrous not to say something about an issue that is so significant and that affects such a high number of the population.
The sleeping space only has 3 rules: that the beds only be taken at 30 minute intervals so that everyone can get a chance to rest, that the students wipe down the cots after and that students who are sick/contagious go to the clinic to rest, instead so as to avoid the spread of germs.
A similar project was recently undertaken by the University of Boulder Colorado, where they opened up a Sleeping Spot on campus (this was, however, not in the school library). Harvard University students proposed something similar in 2013—the program is still being evaluated.
The plan has so far been a success at the University of Michigan, with the post garnering more than 50,000 likes on the CSG Facebook account. The CSG are now taking steps toward opening up a second napping station in the North Campus, at the Duderstadt Center. Irene Suh, a sophomore and one of the members of the CSG who worked closely with Adrian Bazbaz on the project says that the survey they took showed that the average UM student only slept 4 hours every night—something that these nap stations hope to change.