Sleep pods give health care workers some much-needed rest

Sleep pods are showing up in an increasing number of British hospitals as a way to help exhausted staff grab a few minutes of much-needed shut-eye.

The health care sector is well known for its long, demanding hours, and while the sleep pods are far from a miracle fix, they can certainly go some way to helping tired staff regain a little bit of energy during a particularly hectic workday. If they have time to use it, that is.

Hereford County Hospital, about 100 miles north-west of London, is the latest health care facility in the United Kingdom to deploy a number of the sleep pods, built by New York-based MetroNaps.

Doctors and nurses at the hospital will have access to the pods during a three-month trial during which their effectiveness will be assessed.

Staff can use them during a break, or before driving home after a long shift, the hospital said.

The pods are being deployed as part of the Fight Fatigue campaign that aims to tackle the negative effects of shift working and fatigue on the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) workforce.


MetroNaps’ sleep pod, which goes with the name EnergyPod, features a bed beneath an adjustable “privacy visor.” Once activated, the pod uses soft lighting and soothing “sleep music” to help the user relax or drift off. Toward the end of a session, the pod enters into a pleasant wake sequence featuring gentle lighting and vibrations.

The EnergyPods tend to get the most use between midnight and four in the morning, according to the Guardian, with time slots between lunchtime and 4 p.m. also popular. Staff rest in the pod for an average of 20 minutes, though a few might drift off for more than an hour.
“We welcome the installation of the new sleep pods, which have been funded by the NHS and form part of our staff well-being plans to improve working conditions and rest areas for doctors and all of our shift workers,” Sue Smith, director of human resources at Wye Valley NHS Trust, which oversees Hereford County Hospital, said in a release.

Smith added: “We’re encouraging staff to fight fatigue by taking breaks, staying hydrated, eating well, getting extra sleep before a night shift, and taking a power nap during their break when working a night shift to improve alertness.”

It’s true that sleep pods have been around for a few years now, but as we continue to learn more about the importance of getting proper rest and its positive effect on the body, a growing number of workplaces are looking at how they can use technology to help their employees feel more refreshed. Such solutions have the potential to create a happier workforce, improve productivity, and, in the case of health care staff, ensure safer performance.