The technology of naps

Afternoon naps are a serious logistical problem. If you’re at work, odds are a) your employer wouldn’t be pleased by you napping on the job, and b) you’re too far from home to zip back for a quick forty winks. If you live in Manhattan, though, you now have a third option: MetroNaps. You can visit their offices, conveniently located in the Empire State Building, and for $14 you get a 20-minute siesta in one of their specially-designed rest pods, pictured above.

But hey! Napping in the afternoon isn’t just fun … it’s scientifically proven to be good for you. Well, maybe not proven as yet, but a recent study found that people performed better at cognitive tests if they got an afternoon nap:

Subjects performed a visual task, reporting the horizontal or vertical orientation of three diagonal bars against a background of horizontal bars in the lower left corner of a computer screen. Their scores on the task worsened over the course of four daily practice sessions. Allowing subjects a 30-minute nap after the second session prevented any further deterioration, while a 1-hour nap actually boosted performance in the third and fourth sessions back to morning levels.

The scientists suspect this is because the nap gives our brains time to absorb new information, as well as time for visio-neural circuitry to recharge.

But whatever. Quite apart from any palliative effect on cognition, I’d pay $14 just for the privilege of sitting in one of those cah-razy pods. Look at those things! They rock! Who’s doing the industrial design for these guys? Ridley Scott? Stanley Kubrick? Check out the nutty picture here of a room full of six pods: I keep on waiting for the creature from Alien to show up and implant everyone with extraterrestrial larvae that will later burst out of their chests. Now that’s refreshing!

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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