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, studies show. And some spa patrons are shelling out big bucks just to snooze.
The Kohler Waters Spa in Burr Ridge, Ill., 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 researcher at Washington State University.
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.
But if you're a napper, 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.
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.