TIME Education

Napping Around: Colleges Provide Campus Snooze Rooms

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Michigan put cots in a library and is testing out a high-tech chair designed for napping, while James Madison is adding more bean bags to a nap room in the student center.

In college, the best grades are usually considered to be the product of sleepless nights. Now, universities nationwide are setting up designated rooms for napping or expanding existing spaces to show students that they don’t have to sacrifice sleep to do top work.

The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is the latest school to make headlines for piloting a napping station through fall 2014. In the walk-up to finals on April 23, 2014, six vinyl cots and disposable pillowcases were placed on the first floor of the University of Michigan’s Shapiro Undergraduate Library, which is open 24/7. First-come, first-serve, with a 30-minute time limit on snoozing, the area was the brainchild of rising senior Adrian Bazbaz, 23, an aerospace engineering major who came up with the idea as a member of U-M Central Student Government after watching countless students fall asleep in front of the library computers. “They’ll just put their backpacks on the table and lie on them,” he says.

An April 29, 2014 photo shows the napping station that was implemented at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Michigan Daily, Allison Farrand – AP

Ryan DeAngelis, 21, a senior majoring in neuroscience and philosophy, used the napping station twice during finals, each time around 12:30 a.m.-1:00 a.m. for about 20 minutes while writing a 12-page paper about metaphysics. Even though he lives on campus, he says the library setup helped him get the job done because he was in a place where the people around him were studying.

“It forces you to stay there,” he adds. “You’re going to wake up in 20 minutes and keep working, but if you go back to the dorm, you’re tempted to fall asleep and then maybe procrastinate ‘til the morning.”

Pod Life

In August, the library started testing out a MetroNaps Energy Pod, a futuristic chair designed for napping, and is thinking about ordering more, according to Stephen Griffes, Operations Supervisor. Popularized by Google, it keeps the sleeper’s legs elevated, and a dome on top ensures privacy. Users can either select the pre-programmed 20-minute nap cycle or customize the duration. And they can listen to soothing music as the machine gently vibrates.

“We are seeing a lot of interest, in particular, from large universities, those with significant commuter student bodies, and graduate medical institutions,” according to an email statement from Christopher Lindholst, who co-founded MetroNaps with Arshad Chowdhury. “Typically the installations go into campus centers and/or the libraries, except in graduate medical institutions where they go directly into the teaching hospitals.”

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has maintained two EnergyPods for commuter students at each of its Savannah and Atlanta campuses since 2006 and is adding four to its Hong Kong campus this fall. At Saint Leo University in Central Florida, the residence hall Apartment 5 maintains four in a “relaxation room” intended for the 30% of students who commute.

Amanda Brown, 21, a senior elementary education major, naps every day around noon in the relaxation room at Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida. Benjamin C. Watters, courtesy of Saint Leo University

But the cost of the pods, which ranges between $9,995 and $12,985 (depending on the model features), may be too steep for some schools. In March 2014, Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi installed a less expensive $4,000 “sleep pod” made by the U.K. company PodTime in the Island Hall Gym. Students sign up for a 30-minute interval, grab a sheet and then climb into what basically looks like a white tube with a vinyl mattress inside.

A Room of One’s Own

While Google maps of the University of Texas-Austin, University of California-San Diego, UC-Santa-Barbara, UC-Davis, and Macalester College review the best places to snooze on campus based on noise levels and foot traffic, some students appreciate the privacy that nap rooms afford.

“I used to go into the library and find a comfy chair in between classes to close my eyes for a while, but I always felt awkward sleeping in front of people,” says Meredith Pilcher, 22, a senior graphic design major at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Va., who, at least twice a week, would doze off on a giant bean bag while listening to classical music in a place called “The Nap Nook.” The room on the first floor of the school’s Festival Conference and Student Center opened in September 2013 with six black, microsuede bean bags and antimicrobial pillows that students could reserve online in 40-minute intervals.

Since more and more students seem to be using it – 2,500 naps were taken there between September 2013 and May 2014 – two white noise machines are being added, plus two more bean bags and faux leather covers for them so that they’re easier to wipe down.

“Heavy workloads make you choose between an A and sleep, and I wanted to change the perception that napping was a lazy behavior,” says Caroline Cooke, 22, who founded The Nap Nook at JMU when she was a senior psychology major.

Health Benefits of Napping

Sara Mednick, assistant professor at University of California-Riverside and author of Take a Nap! Change Your Life, says catching some z’s can boost productivity. In fact, she says the most productive kind of nap is a 60-90 minute one taken 8-9 hours after waking up: “Ninety minutes affords you all of the different sleep stages shown to be important for cognition, memorization, creativity, basic motor skills and the ability to make decisions in a clever way.”

Understanding that many students are also sleep-deprived because they stay up too late socializing, Mednick argues, “Napping is a survival mechanism for college. It’s probably how students get a lot of their stamina to deal with this insane, 24/7 lifestyle that they’re suddenly thrust into after being home with their parents.”

And no matter how many sodas from the vending machine and cups of coffee college students chug from the cafeteria, caffeine cannot make them feel as rested as well as a nap. “The boost you get from caffeine is good for 15-20 minutes up to a half hour, but sleep is actually taking the recent information that you’ve learned and filing it away for you so you can more effectively take in new information,” says Robert Stickgold, an associate professor of psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School.

There’s even research that suggests sleep can be the difference between passing and failing out of school. A study published online in the journal Sleep this summer found sleep-deprived undergraduates were more likely to get worse grades and drop a course than their well-rested fellow students. Poor sleep was found to be as powerful as binge drinking, and more powerful than marijuana, in predicting who would have academic problems, according to co-authors Roxanne Prichard and Monica Hartmann, professors at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“Colleges provide resources about hand-washing, drugs, alcohol, to help students stay healthy, but they’re not doing as much to address poor sleep,” says Prichard.

The Future of Nap Rooms

As colleges and universities compete for state-of-the-art amenities, encouraging drowsy students to nod off in a separate room arguably keeps campus buildings looking spiffy, and thus more appealing to prospective students. As Glenn Wallace, SCAD’s Senior Vice President for University Resources, put it, “No one wants to walk around and see people laying on the floor with their mouths open.”

Now what do parents, the people who foot most of the ever-rising bills for college, think about paying for napping pods or rooms? Shortly after Cristina Ley, 21, dozed off at Michigan’s napping station during finals, she was woken up by a phone call from her mom, whom she had been venting to earlier in the night about the stress of writing a paper. “She was like, ‘What do you mean you’re napping in the library?’ And I told her about it, and she was like, ‘Oh that’s really cool!'”

 

 

TIME

Apparently Hello Kitty is a Human Girl, Not a Cat

The cat's out of the bag!

In a Los Angeles Times interview, Christine Yano, curator of an upcoming exhibit on Hello Kitty at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, said Sanrio considers its billion-dollar icon to be a human girl. As she put it:

“I was corrected — very firmly. That’s one correction Sanrio made for my script for the show. Hello Kitty is not a cat. She’s a cartoon character. She is a little girl. She is a friend. But she is not a cat. She’s never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it’s called Charmmy Kitty.”

Cue the collective—and understandable—”What?!?!?!” on social media.

Sanrio indeed confirmed the news and also pointed us to Hello Kitty’s official bio:

As tall as five apples, and as heavy as three, Hello Kitty is a bright little girl with a heart of gold. She loves to bake cookies and play the piano, and dreams of one day becoming a pianist or maybe even a poet. She has a gift for music and English, and a soft spot for Mama’s apple pie. Hello Kitty and her twin sister Mimmy are the best of friends.

This story was updated to include Sanrio’s response.

TIME animals

11 Lobster Facts That Will Leave You Shell-Shocked

A blue lobster caught by Jay LaPlante off Pine Point in Scarborough, Maine. Meghan LaPlante—AP

Yes, they can naturally be blue.

Earlier this week, a Maine lobsterman and his 14-year-old daughter made headlines because they caught a blue lobster. Turns out chances of finding one are 1 in 2 million, and the blue color is caused by a genetic defect that produces “an excessive amount of a particular protein.”

We thought that tidbit was as good a time as ever to consider the lobster. Herewith, 11 totally essential facts:

1. They keep growing forever.

Or so research suggests. But scientists won’t be able to tell how long lobsters really live because traps aren’t designed to catch the largest lobsters. “When we catch one that is 20-30 pounds, it’s because a claw got caught in the entrance of the trap, not inside,” says Robert C. Bayer, executive director of The Lobster Institute at the University of Maine.

2. They eat each other.

“They’re looking for fresh food and what’s around, and if that happens to be another lobster, then it’s dinner,” says Bayer. “One of the reasons lobster culture is not profitable is because they are cannibalistic, and there are lot of expenses that go along with that.”

3. Females are players—and they make the first move.

Not much courtship precedes lobster love-making. Females that have just shed their shells send out a pheromone to let the males know they’re in the mood. Usually, lobsters that shed their shells are vulnerable and could be eaten by other lobsters, but when a female says she’s ready to get it on, the male lobster will usually opt to have sex with her over killing her.

How do they do it? “I would describe it as the missionary position,” Bayer says. Six to nine months later, eggs appear on her tail, and after another six to 9 months, they hatch. A one-pound-and-a-half female lobster can have between 8,000 to 12,000 eggs, each about the size of a raspberry segment. And they could be from multiple fathers. Females are not monogamous.

4. They taste with their legs.

Chemosensory leg and feet hairs identify food. Small antennae in front of their eyes are used for tracking down food that’s farther away. “If you watch a lobster in a tank in a market, you’ll see they’re flipping, looking for food, dissolved substances in the water,” says Bayer.

5. They chew with their stomachs.

The grinding structure for breaking up food is called the gastric mill, kind of like a set of teeth on their stomachs, which are right behind the eyes and the size of a walnut in a one-pound lobster.

6. The green in cooked lobsters is liver.

Well technically, it’s the tomalley—a digestive gland that’s the intestine, liver, and pancreas. And any red things are eggs.

7. They don’t scream in pain when you cook them.

The noise you hear is “air that has been trapped in the stomach and forced through the mouth after being out of water for short periods of time,” says Bayer. Lobsters don’t have vocal chords, and they can’t process pain.

8. One of their claws can exert pressure of up to 100 pounds per square inch.

So they may not feel pain, but they can cause some serious pain. Researchers discovered that after having the lobster’s larger claw, the crusher claw, clamp down on a load cell, a pressure-measuring device. This claw looks like it has molars because it’s used to break up anything hard like crabs, clams, mussels. The other, called the ripper claw or the quick claw, tears softer food like fish or worms.

9. They can regenerate limbs.

“It’s going to take probably a good five years for a one-pound lobster to regenerate a claw that’s about the same size of one that was lost,” says Bayer. But they can do it.

In this March 31, 2011, photo, a lobster is posed next to a golf ball made from ground lobster shells in Orono, Maine. Robert F. Bukaty – AP

10. Their shells were once used to make golf balls.

Shells left over after lobster processing are usually tossed into landfills. So in an effort to make them worth something and keep the money in the lobster industry, a University of Maine professor created golf balls with a core made out of lobster shells. They’re also biodegradable, designed for golfing on cruise ships or courses near oceans and lakes.

The problem is they only go about 70 percent of the distance of a regular golf ball, so you won’t see them at the U.S. Open anytime soon.

11. Once upon a time, they were the go-to prison food.

In the colonial era, only the poor, indentured servants, and prisoners ate lobsters because they were cheap, too plentiful, and considered “tasteless.” After prisoners in one Massachusetts town got sick of eating them all the time, a new rule said they only had to eat them three times a week.

 

TIME viral

Superman Proves He’s Superman By Hardly Wincing During The Ice Bucket Challenge

Henry Cavill and Amy Adams get doused multiple times

On the set of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, multiple buckets and trash cans of ice water were dumped over Henry Cavill — who was in his Superman costume — and Amy Adams (Lois Lane).

The video is part of the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” a viral fundraising effort that has raised nearly $90 million by encouraging people to dump ice water over their heads on camera or donate $100 to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) research (or both, as lots of celebrities have done).

In the video, Amy Adams said she was nominated by actor Darren Le Gallo and challenged her siblings to do it next.

TIME weather

Farmers’ Almanac Forecasts Another Frigid and Snowy Winter

"Shivery and shovelry are back"

Winter is coming, and it’s going to be as bitterly cold and snowy as last year’s, according to the 2015 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac, which goes on sale this week.

“Shivery and shovelry are back,” managing editor Sandi Duncan told the AP. “We’re calling for some frigid conditions, bitter conditions.”

The Associated Press reports the guide “forecasts colder-than-normal and wetter-than-usual weather for three-quarters of the country east of the Rocky Mountains.”

The 2014 edition‘s prediction of a “C-O-L-D” winter was spot-on, given the polar vortex. The editors even correctly called a snowstorm to hit at the same time the Super Bowl was taking place, although fortunately for the players and fans, it swept in hours after the game.

The Farmers’ Almanac has been published every year since 1818, and claims its predictions are accurate around 80% of the time. Those forecasts are based on a secret mathematical formula that reportedly considers factors modern meteorologists don’t pay much attention to, like sunspots, tidal action, and the position of planets.

TIME animals

What Life Is Like for America’s Most Famous Panda Cub

Bao Bao is about to celebrate her first birthday—and already she's acting like a moody, rebellious teen.

Bao Bao, the newest giant panda cub at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington, D.C., turns one year old on Saturday, August 23, but already she’s acting like a moody, rebellious teenager. We caught up with one of her trainers, Nicole MacCorkle, to find out the most surprising and interesting developments in her growth within the last year.

She’s sassy
Bao Bao – which means “precious” or “treasure” in Chinese – doesn’t always listen to her mom Mei Xiang or her teachers. “Sometimes she’s sitting in the tree when we’re trying to get her in at the end of the day, and it’s almost as if she is mocking us, just looking at us like, ‘You can’t reach me,'” she says. “If she doesn’t respond to her mother, she’s not going to respond to us.”

She’s a picky eater

She’s only interested in her mother’s milk and got hooked on grass early – bamboo leaves – at four months, two months earlier than when most baby pandas start eating the plant. When she obeys commands, she’s given cooked sweet potato and “fruitsicles,” frozen apple juice with apple and pear pieces, but “Bao Bao is not really interested in the non-bamboo food,” says MacCorkle. “She doesn’t have a lot of food rewards that she’s overly motivated by, so a lot of the things we would use to train an adult she’s just not that interested in.” After her first birthday, zoo keepers will start bribing her with sweets like honey. For now, they dangle a little white buoy on the end of a pole to motivate her.

She does her own thing

Bao Bao isn’t as social as her brother Tai Shan, the zoo’s first surviving panda cub born in 2005 that is now in the breeding program at Wolong’s Bifengxia Base in Ya’an, Sichuan, China. He would approach the keepers, while Bao Bao is more standoffish, preferring to climb trees, the rock cave in her yard, and walk along the window sill of the indoor exhibit room.

“We’re probably a little less interesting to Bao Bao because we weren’t as novel to her as we were to Tai Shan,” says MacCorkle. “For Tai Shan, we didn’t go into the den area when he was first born and didn’t become a fixture in his environment until he was six months old. But with Bao Bao, we’ve been going in since the very beginning.”

Tai Shan also “clung” to Mei Xiang, so much so that he didn’t want to be weaned, and mom would bark at him to tell him it was time. Mei Xiang lets Bao Bao “have her own space” – unless Bao Bao has a fruitsicle that she wants. Then she’ll just take it. “To produce the milk, she’s looking for any extra calories to consume so she can nourish her baby,” MacCorkle says.

She’s an early riser

Zoo visitors who want to see the youngster when she’s most active should show up at 7:30 a.m. She might be exploring her yard before she climbs up into her tree. But would-be selfie-takers, beware: “I have not seen her react to visitors,” MacCorkle says.

TIME Music

Pound the Alarm! Nicki Minaj’s ‘Anaconda’ Video Breaks Record

It came in like a "wrecking ball" (and demolished "Wrecking Ball")

It’s quite an ass-essment: the music video website Vevo has announced that Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” got 19.6 million views in a day, setting a new record for the most views in 24 hours. The previous record, 12.3 million, was held by Miley Cyrus’s “Wrecking Ball.”

As The Wrap points out, this isn’t Minaj’s first Vevo record: “The rapper previously set Vevo’s most-watched record, twice — her collaboration with Justin Bieber for “Beauty and a Beat” received 10.6 million views in October 2012, and “Stupid Hoe” got 4.8 million viewers in January 2012.”

Minaj will be performing “Anaconda” at MTV’s Video Music Awards on Sunday, August 24 — and if the reports are true, Minaj and Cyrus could be sitting next to each other at the event, so now they’ll have something to talk about. That said, it could get real awkward real quick — especially in light of Cyrus’s spoof of the “Anaconda” cover art.

TIME movies

National Ghostbusters Day Is August 28. Who You Gonna Call?

In honor of the 30th anniversary theatrical re-release of film

Have you been waiting for just the right moment to wear your Proton Pack in public? You’re in luck: National Ghostbusters Day is August 28.

The holiday is pegged to the 30th anniversary theatrical re-release of the 1984 film starring Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, and the late Harold Ramis, according to a news release by Sony Pictures Entertainment. A limited theatrical engagement starts August 29, and a Ghostbusters 30th Anniversary Edition comes out on Blu-ray September 16.

If you are looking for a Ghostbusters fix in the meantime, though, this LEGO version is making the rounds:

MORE: Ghostbusters Needs a Reboot, Not a Sequel

MORE: Ivan Reitman Remembers Harold Ramis: “The World Has Lost a Truly Original Comedy Voice”

TIME society

Say Cheese!

Darko Vojinovic – AP

Don't...Move...

What have we here? An outtake from a Jurassic Park movie? Nope, just some perfect timing. A visitor takes a picture at an exhibit called “Dino Park” at Kalemegdan Fortress in Belgrade, Serbia on Thursday.

TIME celebrity

Anna Wintour Did the Ice Bucket Challenge Because Getting Drenched in Water Is The Latest Fashion

No word on whether this new look will make the September issue.

Vogue editor Anna Wintour has done the ice bucket challenge — a Facebook trend in which people post videos of themselves getting doused with ice water, then nominate others to do it or donate $100 to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research. Nominated by her daughter Bee Shaffer, Wintour has challenged tennis champion Roger Federer and English actor Dominic West to do it next.

The fundraising campaign has raised more than $15 million.

No word on whether this new look will be featured in the September issue.

MORE: George W. Bush Does The Ice Bucket Challenge

MORE: Here Is How The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Started

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