In 2021, the Royal College of Physicians published a research paper titled “Sleep is the Best Medicine: How Rest Facilities and EnergyPods can Improve Staff Wellbeing.” The Research explored the impact of rest facilities and EnergyPods on National Healthcare Service(NHS) staff wellbeing. This insightful study was conducted by a team of researchers and aestheticians.
What kind of sleep do you get on a sleep pod?
According to a NASA study investigating the impact of cockpit rest on crew performance and alertness during long-haul operations, it was discovered that the majority of sleep obtained by pilots occurred either in the cockpit or in designated layover facilities. This sleep was predominantly characterized by NREM (non-rapid eye movement) sleep.
Non-REM sleep is the phase of sleep where we do not experience rapid eye movements. This stage is divided into three phases – N1, N2, and N3. During this type of sleep, our body repairs and regenerates itself. It also helps in strengthening memories and learning new skills.
In contrast, REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is the stage where most dreaming occurs and plays a crucial role in emotional and mental health. It is also associated with improved creativity and problem-solving abilities.
The 1995 study found that crew members, including pilots, experienced different stages of sleep during their naps. These stages included 30% light sleep (NREM stage 1), 62% slightly deeper sleep (NREM stage 2), and 8% deep sleep (NREM slow-wave sleep). Surprisingly, no REM sleep, which is associated with dreaming, was observed.
In a regular nocturnal cycle of NREM and REM sleep, it typically takes 60-100 minutes for the first occurrence of REM sleep. The 40-minute nap opportunity did not provide enough time for REM sleep to occur.
The 1995 study also found that a higher proportion of light sleep (NREM stage 1 sleep) occurred during daytime sleep compared to nighttime sleep. Conversely, a higher percentage of deep sleep (NREM slow-wave sleep) was observed during nighttime sleep compared to daytime sleep. Consequently, sleep during day flights tended to be lighter, while sleep during night flights tended to be deeper.
Want to know how long to fall asleep when napping?
According to the NASA study, crew members and pilots slept for an average of 26 minutes to rejuvenate, which accounted for about 64% of their designated rest time. On average, they took approximately 6 minutes to fall asleep.
Going per this Study, it will take you around 6 minutes to fall asleep when you book a nap pod. Consider this next time you’re considering booking a short nap period in a sleeping pod. A period such as 10 mins may not be enough to even get you to NREM1.
Most airport sleep technologies such as sleeping pods, suites, capsules, and hotel cabins offer NREM sleep but you should be aware that you are accumulating sleep debt as you travel. You’ll need to compensate for the lost REM sleep hours when you are back home.
5 Health Drawbacks for Not Resting or Taking Naps
The report documented previous literature on several proven impacts of lack of sleep including;
- According to research conducted by Marie P Edwards et. al in 2011, insufficient sleep can significantly increase the risk of cardiovascular issues, obesity, diabetes, and primary sleep disorders among healthcare workers.
- Working long 12-hour day or night shifts increases the likelihood of mistakes on the job. Reports have linked these extended shifts to twice as many accidents compared to an 8-hour shift according to a 2018 Report by the British Medical Association(BMA)
- According to the BMA Report, there is limited but high-quality evidence suggesting that female night-shift workers have an elevated risk of breast cancer. This risk may be dose-dependent, with longer exposure to night work (more than 20 years) being particularly significant.
- Working night shifts has been associated with a higher likelihood of road traffic accidents. This can be attributed to the fatigue experienced while driving home after completing the shift, as revealed in a study conducted by Stickgold in 2005.
- Stickgold R. Study also found that sleep deprivation not only hampers recent learning but also disrupts consolidation, which primarily takes place during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
- Night shifts can have detrimental effects on healthcare workers, impacting patient care. These effects manifest through impaired decision-making, decreased procedural accuracy, unintentional medication administration, errors in drug dosing calculations, and increased risk-taking behaviors.
Why Fatigue Has Detrimental Impact on Health:
Sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being. It allows our body to rest and repair, which is crucial for maintaining a healthy immune system, reducing stress levels, and improving cognitive function. However, healthcare workers often work long and irregular hours, leading to sleep deprivation and fatigue. This can have detrimental effects on their health and job performance.
The management of fatigue and adaptation to varying work schedules can be influenced by an individual’s age. Typically, older individuals, especially older men, tend to experience lower quality sleep due to sleep fragmentation, characterized by brief arousals during sleep and frequent early awakenings.
Similarly, individuals who work in professions that require them to be on-call or have night shifts have a higher likelihood of experiencing sleep disturbances, such as difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. This can result in chronic sleep deprivation, which has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other health issues.
Benefits of Sleep Pods:
From July to October 2019, a comprehensive study was carried out in the acute medical unit of City Hospital in Birmingham. This district general hospital boasts 304 beds, with the acute medical unit alone comprising 48 of those beds. During the nighttime, a dedicated team consisting of 10 nurses, five healthcare assistants, and three junior doctors diligently serve the patients.
The EnergyPod was installed in a dedicated room within the acute medical unit, and its proper utilization was extensively communicated to the department’s staff.
The table below summarizes the results;
Before the introduction of the EnergyPod, more than 80% of workers expressed that stress and fatigue had a detrimental effect on their personal lives.
After using the pod for a period of 3 months, a remarkable 74% of users reported experiencing positive effects on their physical and psychological well-being, as well as an improved ability to manage stress.
An overwhelming majority of respondents, a staggering 87%, believed that the EnergyPod would significantly enhance both morale and overall well-being.
Key takeaways from the study on the benefits of Sleeping Pods:
- The EnergyPod significantly contributes to the well-being of staff members. Importantly, it is not intended for deep sleep, but rather facilitates a rejuvenating power nap through its pre-set timed function.
- During this period, users are unlikely to transition into deeper sleep stages, which helps prevent experiencing a ‘sleep hangover’.
- The practice of taking a power nap has demonstrated its ability to enhance alertness and energy levels, a phenomenon we have also confirmed through our data analysis.
- Additional valuable features encompass sensory distractions such as music, ambient lighting, and vibrations, facilitating expedited relaxation. This holds great significance, particularly in high-acuity environments where downtime is limited.
Consolidated Results on Nap Pods Benefits:
After reviewing the UK Study and others I was able to find on the benefits of short naps, below are the key benefits;
Power naps have been proven to improve cognitive function, alertness, and productivity. According to the 1995 NASA study, pilots who took a 26-minute nap experienced a remarkable 54% boost in alertness and a 34% improvement in job performance compared to those who skipped the nap.
The 1995 NASA Study analyzed EEG and EOG microevents that showed a distinct decrease in physiological alertness, effectively distinguishing the Non-Rest Group from the Rest Group. The Rest Group exhibited fewer microevents, indicating a higher level of physiological alertness, during the scheduled rest period compared to the Non-Rest Group in the final 90 minutes of the flight.
While a short nap cannot completely erase severe, accumulated sleep debt, it can effectively diminish sleepiness and enhance performance for a limited duration thereafter.
Reduces lapses at work:
Below is a chart from the NASA Study showing how pilots who did not nap had more lapses prior to, during, and after flight compared to those who rested;
Sleep pods promote relaxation and provide an opportunity for individuals to disconnect from the stresses of their daily work routine. This results in improved mood and reduced stress levels, leading to a more positive outlook and increased job satisfaction. Additionally, napping can help prevent burnout and improve mental health by allowing individuals to recharge and reset their minds.
A well-rested employee is a productive employee. By providing sleep pods in the workplace, employers can ensure that their employees are getting the rest they need to perform at their best. Naps have been shown to improve cognitive performance, memory, concentration, and creativity. This can lead to increased productivity and better work quality.
In industries that involve high-risk activities such as driving or operating heavy machinery, well-rested employees are crucial for maintaining safety. Napping in a sleep pod can help prevent accidents caused by fatigue and increase alertness and reaction time. This is especially important for shift workers who may experience disruptions in their sleep schedule.
Providing employees with access to sleep pods can actually be a cost-saving measure for employers. It has been shown that sleep-deprived individuals are more likely to make costly mistakes and have higher rates of absenteeism and presenteeism (being physically present at work but not fully functioning). By promoting rest and reducing fatigue, employers can save money on potential errors and lost productivity.
Encourages work-life balance:
In today’s fast-paced society, it can be difficult for individuals to find time for rest and relaxation outside of work. By providing sleep pods in the workplace, employers are promoting a healthy work-life balance for their employees. This can lead to lower levels of stress and burnout, resulting in happier and healthier employees.
Boosts overall well-being:
Getting enough rest is crucial for maintaining overall physical and mental health. Sleep pods provide a space for employees to recharge and destress during the workday. This can improve mood, reduce anxiety and depression, and even boost immune function. By prioritizing employee well-being, employers are investing in the long-term success and health of their workforce.
Flexibility for diverse needs:
Every individual has different sleep patterns and needs. Some may require a full 8 hours of sleep while others may function best with power naps throughout the day. Sleep pods offer flexibility for employees to rest according to their personal needs, promoting productivity and efficiency during their working hours.
Attracts top talent:
In today’s competitive job market, companies are constantly looking for ways to stand out and attract top talent. Offering sleep pods can be seen as a unique perk that sets an employer apart from others. This can help to attract and retain high-quality employees who value work-life balance and overall well-being.
How Sleep Pods Work:
Sleep pods are designed to provide a secluded and private space for employees to rest. These pods are usually equipped with noise-cancelling technology, dim lighting, and comfortable seating or bedding. This allows individuals to block out distractions and fully relax during their designated rest time.
Sleep pods are designed with ergonomic support in mind. The seating and bedding are specifically crafted to provide proper alignment and support for the body, allowing individuals to fully relax and rejuvenate their muscles while they rest. This can help reduce tension and discomfort from sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time during work.
Some sleep pods offer the option of light therapy, which uses specific colors and intensities of light to stimulate the body’s natural sleep patterns. This can be especially helpful for individuals who work night shifts or struggle with jet lag, helping them adjust to their new schedule and promote better sleep.
The use of white noise in sleep pods can help drown out any distracting sounds from the surrounding environment, creating a soothing atmosphere for relaxation. This can be especially beneficial for individuals who work in open office spaces or noisy environments.
Sleep pods are also equipped with soundproofing materials to block out external noise and create a quiet and peaceful environment for rest. This can be particularly useful in busy and loud work environments, allowing employees to fully disconnect from work and recharge.
Many sleep pods also come equipped with temperature controls, allowing individuals to adjust the temperature to their preference for optimal comfort. This can be especially beneficial for those who struggle with temperature regulation during sleep, helping them achieve a more restful and comfortable rest.
How Air Travel Industry Is Embracing Power Naps to Reduce Accidents:
Flight time limitations, particularly within the EU, have been implemented to address certain concerns. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations stipulate that:
- The maximum allowable duty period for a crew member is 60 hours within a span of seven consecutive days, 110 hours within a span of 14 consecutive days, and 190 hours within a span of 28 consecutive days.
- Pilots must adhere to specific flight time limitations. These include a maximum of 100 hours within any 28 consecutive days, 900 hours within a calendar year, and 1,000 hours within any 12 consecutive calendar months.
- A minimum of 12 hours of rest between flights is required, or the duration of the preceding duty if it exceeds 12 hours. Night-time flight duty should not exceed 11 consecutive hours.
- To ensure proper recovery, it is crucial to allow for an extended rest period of 36 hours, which should include two consecutive local nights. Specifically, this period should span eight hours between 22:00 and 08:00 local time.
- To ensure proper recovery, it is necessary to have a 48-hour extended rest period, which includes two local days (where a local day refers to a 24-hour period starting at 00:00 local time). This recovery rest should be scheduled twice every month.
- Napping during night shift: practices, preferences, and perceptions of critical care and emergency department nurses
- Fatigue and sleep deprivation – the impact of different working patterns on doctors
- Crew factors in flight operations 9: Effects of planned cockpit rest on crew performance and alertness in long-haul operations
My name is Nathan Kip and I founded this blog, Airport LLC as a way to document and engage with clients in my travel consulting business. Airportllc.com is the only source of over 2,000 fun things flyers could do during layovers.
Over the past 7 years, I have designed and planned tour packages for hundreds of clients and have recently focussed on the mission of changing boring layovers to excellent mini-vacations by giving you the best suggestions on must-do activities when flying over different airports.
Next time you or your friend are looking for suggestions on what to do in some airport, remember Airport LLC or Airportllc.com. On this site, you’ll get the best suggestions available on the internet regarding hand-picked activities that will fulfill your airport experience.
I have obtained a license to provide professional tour guidance at Airports in the US and across the world. Why should you listen to my suggestions? I have flown through more than 100 airports in the world and fortunately, I have pictures, stories, and tips to share with you regarding all the fun stuff you can do as you wait for your next flight.
Aside from gaining thousands of flying miles, I am also a travel consultant assisting clients with bookings and specifically advance tour bookings of things to do at airports when the layover is longer than 5 hours.
To make a 15-minute free things-to-do consultation with me, use my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is only recommended for flyers with long layovers of over 5 hours. If your layover is 3+ hours, you can still reach out but we cannot guarantee the ideal package that will change your layovers to mini-vacations. I only support clients flying through US airports and a select number of cities across the world.
Name: Nahan Kip
Profession: A professional travel consultant with a focus on airport activities to do during layovers
Phone: +1 945 348 889
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