Universities have long embraced digital technology that improves students’ academic performance. Now the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor is embracing another, simpler performance booster—sleep.
Concerned with students’ bad sleeping habits during final-examination season—and their tendency to fall asleep on top of library tables—the university’s Shapiro Undergraduate Library has installed “napping stations.” The pilot program is meant to allow students who live far from the campus to take naps—limited to 30 minutes each—between study marathons.
The university’s Central Student Government proposed the stations. Surveys were conducted to measure interest in the idea, and officials talked up the benefits of napping for students’ academic performance and alertness, the library’s senior supervisor, Stephen Griffes, said in an interview with Michigan Radio.
Mr. Griffes said the library’s staff shared the student government’s concerns. Walking around the library to wake up students has been a common practice for staff members, who have worried about students’ safety and that of their belongings, especially around exam time.
“We see students passing out in the library all the time,” Mr. Griffes said in the radio interview. “If somebody is out cold, you want to make sure there is nothing wrong.”
He said the napping stations were located in a busy area to attract students and to be near staff supervision. The library, which is open 24/7, provides students with lockers to hold their valuables while they’re asleep, disinfecting wipes to clean the vinyl cots, and disposable pillow cases.
“It’s not a sleeping zone,” Mr. Griffes said, referring to the time limit. “It’s a napping station.”