Sunday, August 06, 2006

Making A Profit From Sleepy Co-Workers

Arshad Chowdhury Story

While working grueling hours as an investment banker in New York City three years ago, Arshad Chowdhury noticed his colleagues' heavy eyelids and bobbing heads during meetings.

"Everyone was tired all the time," he says. "Some people were even sneaking off to the bathrooms to take a nap."

Knowing there must be a better way to combat workplace drowsiness than sleeping in a toilet stall, Chowdhury created MetroNaps.

Located inside the Empire State Building, MetroNaps ( offers rows of futuristic-looking sleeping pods, specifically designed for 20-minute "powernaps." From a $14 one-day pass up to a $65 one-month unlimited pass, sleep-deprived New Yorkers can refresh during their workdays in an individual pod, which features ergonomic design and an upper hood for privacy. Nappers are gently awakened by a combination of light and vibration. Patrons can also opt to order lunch to be ready when they wake.

"When all of your employees are tired, your workforce is losing productivity," Chowdhury says. "But most people don't have the real estate or the culture to have a separate area for resting. So employers can send their employees here."

Neuroscientists agree. In a recent study at Harvard, researchers found that adults who take short midday naps experience heightened mental performance, better alertness and improved mood.

Chowdhury hopes to expand the business by selling the pods to offices that don't have a lot of extra room, but want to offer a way to boost productivity.

But until MetroNaps pods become a widespread phenomenon, heavy eyelids will continue to flutter in cubicles across America.

The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night's Sleep