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Napping an Increasing Trend among Busy Professionals

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homespun-low-res-7-23.jpgBy Tracy Swartz

RISMEDIA, July 23, 2008- (MCT)-Napping isn’t just for your grandpa anymore. In fact, folks at fancy spas like to nap, too.Sleep-deprived Americans are increasingly turning to the power nap and afternoon siesta to restore alertness and enhance performance, studies show. And some spa patrons are shelling out big bucks just to snooze.

The Kohler Waters Spa in Burr Ridge, Ill., which opened in April, offers a 60-minute massage with a 15-minute restorative nap service for $150. Meanwhile, Yelo, a New York City spa with air-conditioned sleep chambers, plans to open a Chicago location in 2009 or 2010, according to the company.

“We are seeing so many of our guests coming in that are having trouble sleeping at night,” said Jean Kolb, Kohler’s wellness business director. “This is a way for us to really extend an opportunity for them to have total relaxation.”

But a catnap may not be the answer to bedtime bliss. Some sleep scientists say napping can negatively affect nighttime sleeping and make you groggy. Meanwhile, other researchers say dozing can relax, rejuvenate and improve health.

A six-year study released last year by the Harvard University School of Public Health and the University of Athens Medical School in Greece found midday napping at least three times per week for at least 30 minutes reduced heart disease deaths by about one third among men and women. The study focused on 23,681 Greeks who had no history of coronary heart disease, stroke or cancer.

Napping also takes the edge off sleepiness by adding to cumulative sleep time, said Gregory Belenky, a sleep researcher at Washington State University.

“You can split your sleep up and still have the same aggregate effect,” Belenky said. “Nap early, nap often.”

Lisa Shives, president of Northshore Sleep Medicine in Evanston, Ill., disagrees. Typically, people who nap often have a sleeping problem or a medical condition, she said.

One drawback to napping is sleep inertia _ the feeling of disorientation when awaking from a deep slumber, Shives said. People who insist on snoozing should keep the nap to 30 minutes or less to avoid getting into the deep sleep cycle, she said.

“If you try to take a nap and it’s too long, you wake up super groggy,” said Shives, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine based in Westchester, Ill. “That is not a good thing for anyone who needs to work immediately. They really haven’t made themselves feel better.”

But if you’re a napper, rest assured: You’re in good company.

Fifty-four percent of the 1,000 Americans polled in a 2007 survey by the National Sleep Foundation said they took at least one nap during the prior month. The respondents on average took 3.5 naps during the month, with an average reported nap time of about an hour.

People are even dozing at work. One in 10 respondents to the National Sleep Foundation survey said they have napped at work. About one-third said their employer allows them to nap during breaks, while 16 percent of respondents said their employer provides a place for employees to nap.

Employees of PerkSpot, a Ravenswood, Ill., company that manages employee discount programs on behalf of employers, have the opportunity to catch up on their ZZZs on the office futon, which has pillows but no blanket. Since the futon was introduced about a year ago, a few of the firm’s 10 employees take a nap there each week, PerkSpot founder Chris Hill said.

“We thought it would be a nice place to sit. It just turned into more of a napping-focused piece of furniture,” Hill said. “It has been used on occasion when we pull all-nighters. Get a couple hours sleep on there, then back to work at 9.”

Instead of catching shut-eye at work, Adam Joffe of Chicago’s River North area prefers to nap an hour at home. Joffe said he enjoys taking a snooze Friday evenings after a long week of working and law school at Chicago-Kent College.

Typically, he’ll lie on his couch around 6 p.m. and wake up around 7:30 p.m., refreshed and ready to go out for the night.

Joffe said he’d like to take more naps if he had the time _ he was an everyday napper in college _ but he’d never pay for a quick snooze.

“Nothing beats the comfort of my own couch,” Joffe, 27, said.

Still, other napsters prefer a fancier snooze. The Kohler spa in Burr Ridge has performed more than 50 custom massages with restorative naps since the spa opened April 21, Kolb said. After their 60-minute massage, spa patrons stay on the massage table, and the massage therapist covers their eyes with a warm aromatherapy towel and lowers the lights. Patrons are awakened 15 minutes later to the sound of a tuning fork and bowl.

In New York City, the Yelo spa charges $15 for a 20-minute nap in its YeloCab, a private space with a reclining chair, cashmere blankets and purified air. Customers chose the color and intensity of the light in the cabin and their hibernation sounds (environmental or music.)

Pamela Spiegel, a Yelo account executive, said the company plans to expand to Chicago in the next two years but a location has not yet been picked.

Not everyone is a fan of naps.

Ryan Wyse of Crystal Lake, Ill., said he wouldn’t pay for a nap or take a quick snooze for free. Wyse said he dislikes naps because they make him feel groggy-and his former roommate napped all the time.

“It drove me crazy,” said Wyse, 31. “He was snoring on the couch. I’m like, ‘Go do something.’”

© 2008, Chicago Tribune.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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