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A place for students to hang their weary heads

BY JENNIFER HALSALL | JUL 29 2015

For overtired students at the University of Calgary, salvation is at hand: a nap room to help you catch up on some much-needed rest. The nap room was a campaign promise by Kirsty McGowan, elected the student union’s vice-president of student life this past spring. She says she came up with the idea after researching mental health problems on campuses.

“One of the largest contributing factors to mental health issues is lack of sleep. That kind of rang a bell with me, because a lot of students tend to wear it a like a medal,” she says, boasting how they stayed up all night to finish an assignment, for example.

A 2013 health assessment conducted on campus makes the nap room all the more justified – in it, 45 percent of students identified tiredness as a problem. And nap rooms aren’t exclusive to universities: companies like Google, Apple, HootSuite and Procter & Gamble have all experimented with them as a means of boosting productivity.

The Calgary nap room will be opened in November during the university’s Stress Less Week, which aims to provide stress-relieving activities for students during finals. Brock University also has a nap room, which it opens twice a year as part of Wellness Week, a week-long campus-wide event that promotes healthy, balanced lifestyles during exam periods. Chris Green, the manager of marketing and communications for the Brock University Students Union, says the nap room has become one of Wellness Week’s most popular events.

“We had the windows all blacked out so it was dark in there, put some soft lighting in, ran a tranquil music feed off of YouTube, like ocean sounds and that kind of stuff … just to create a peaceful spot,” he says. “People loved it.”

However, due to space constraints, the student union is unable to have a nap room all the time, he says. “Brock’s a fairly undersized physical campus for the amount of students we have.”

Back at the University of Calgary, the nap room is a pilot project for now. If there is sufficient demand, the student council will work to make it a permanent fixture, says Ms. McGowan. Until then, students will have to sleep at home, or find their own campus nap spots.

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