What Happens When You Visit Chicago’s First Sleep Studio

Naptime: All the cool kids are doing it

January 5, 2018 9:00 am

If your New Year’s resolution is to get ahead at work or take better care of your health, you could probably use a daily power nap.

According to the CDC, one in three Americans are skimping on shuteye. And while consciously uncoupling from your responsibilities for an afternoon snooze may seem counterintuitive, the National Sleep Foundation found that naps restore alertness, enhance performance and reduce mistakes and accidents.

Then you get to the personal benefits: getting enough sleep also impacts obesity, diabetes, immune function, mood disorders and life expectancy, while napping at least three times a week for a half-hour can reduce the risk of death from heart disease.

Now that you’re sold, let’s talk next steps. Specifically “Where?” and “How?”

Enter Chicago’s first diurnal sleeping studio, Peace Power Napping, where we met founder Jennifer Thomas to investigate whether the power nap is all it’s cracked up to be.

When you picture a restful, midday enclave, 30 North Michigan Avenue probably doesn’t come to mind. But alas, there it is, directly across from Millennium Park in one of the tall, old buildings lining the Mile.

You enter through a dark corridor, hand over a photo ID and pack into one of the small, marble elevators. Doors open to a tight corridor of psychiatry offices. Turn the corner to your right and you’ll find Peace’s door marked by a Post-it reminding you not to knock; if you have an appointment, just walk in and find your bed.

The space itself is dim and small but not claustrophobic. The ceilings are high and orange lights are set low to lull you into relaxation (they turn an energizing blue when it’s time to wake up). If the drapes are open, the solitary window reveals a decent lake view.

Organic memory foam mattresses are separated by hanging cloth dividers. Each of the five stalls offers a bookcase with USB and regular outlets, eye masks, ear plugs, blankets and a place to put your things. Tonal music quietly thrums in the background.

A spa this is not, but the quaint setup is a sign of business acumen rather than lack of care. “This is a beta test for sure” says Thomas, “it’s a small, small space right now. I plan on transitioning to a space with more concrete walls when I can confirm the market.”

While it initially seemed odd to lie under a blanket in business casual, separated from strangers by naught but a sheet, taking off my shoes and going horizontal mid-workday quickly registered as one of the most luxurious experience of my life. As I closed my eyes and hunkered in to the pillows, I didn’t feel at home. Instead, I felt like I was taking napping very seriously — which added to the appeal.

If you’re a light sleeper, bring a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. Peace has earplugs available, but know thyself and come prepared to maximize your experience. Same goes for naps around high-volume commute times: you’ll probably need something to drown out the bucket drummers, buses and horn blares underfoot.

Lights turn on and the music gets louder when you’ve reached the end of your session. Set a phone alarm (on vibrate) if the paranoia will keep you from relaxing, but rest assured, Thomas has stepped in to wake up many an over-sleeper. “I understand my clients want to get back to work,” she affirms.

​​The verdict on Chicago’s nap studio?

It seems so obvious now, but of course taking a break and enjoying some dark and quiet made for a more effective P.M. It’s a reset button. Frequent flyers, executives, pregnant women or anyone with a demanding job should add this low-tech respite to their regular rotation — especially if it’s in walking distance from your office.

One nap is $20. Bulk sessions bring down the costs a bit: grab two for $35 or 10 for $150. If you like the service, you can even purchase a monthly subscription for $125 to unlock daily access.

I found the app a little hard to use and preferred just booking via email. You can also call or text directly to book your session.

Nappy new year.

Nota bene: To help you test out the waters, PPN was kind enough to extend an exclusive promo code to InsideHook readers. Enter the promo code INSIDEHOOK to activate a buy-one, get-one purchase online through the end of February.

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