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Tired At Work? Sleep On It, In This Space-Age Nap Pod

Forward-thinking offices are already letting their employees catch a little shut-eye when necessary. The next step: this glowing chamber to let them nap in peace (and style).

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What do Ben and Jerry’s, AOL-Huffington Post, and private investment fund Kodiak Capital Group have in common? All three companies have woken up to the positive benefits associated with an on-the-job activity that would once have gotten workers axed: napping.

Ten to 30 minutes of shut-eye in the middle of the day can be a perfect refresher for overworked and underslept employees, according to scientists. A study by NASA showed 54% improved alertness among airplane pilots when they were given the chance to nap for 40 minutes. And 34% of adults polled by the National Sleep Foundation last year said that their bosses let them nap at work.

But beyond those stats, evidence that the trend is growing lies in the fact that more companies are creating pods designed for in-office napping. While the sleep-pod industry was once cornered by MetroMaps who makes the Energy Pods favored by Google, AOL, and others, a newcomer on the scene is the pod CalmSpace by French designer-cum-neuropharmacologist Marie-Virginie Bebet.

On her website, she calls the pod environment "optimized to offer a short but regenerative sleep," by combining sound and light technology by Zyken, a design firm that specializes in creating environments that repsond to sleep cycles by altering the lighting. Nappers decide whether they prefer a 10-, 15-, or 20-minute rest session, and at the end, a calm blue light gently rouses them from slumber, supposedly leaving them refreshed, not groggy, thanks to blue light’s ability to act as a "blockade of melatonin secretion," a sleep hormone.

CalmSpace arrives as a follow-up to Bebet’s 2008 project Analeptic, a nap-pod concept that showed at the MoMA in New York. French Telecom giant Orange liked the idea and hired her to prototype it with office furniture designer Haworth last year. The capsule is now being used to refresh workers at one of Orange’s biggest call centers in Lyon.