Power Nap: Fort Worth business is not taking sleep deprivation lying down


By Bill Bowen


So, you need a nap? You’ve been staring at the computer screen for hours, moving columns, adding numbers, honing the wording. Or maybe working on the dock, moving boxes, sorting packages, operating the heavy equipment. You’re tired.

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“This is almost at an epidemic level,” said Ted Olsen, a former solar-power equipment salesman from California. “We fight that throughout the day.”

Americans struggle daily with a sleep deficit, says Olsen.

The solution?

A nap. A restorative power nap to be precise.

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Olsen has created a place for dreams, or at least naps, to come true. Two months ago he opened Powernaps, a quiet place, equipped with machines called pods that can help you sleep.

Located at 2740 Western Center Blvd. in north Fort Worth, Powernaps offers 30-minute packages for as little as $39 a month. That plan gives you unlimited nap periods during the month. Or, you can pay $18 to $26 for a one-off lunch-break escape. Cost varies depending on the type of nap machine you choose.

Olsen, 43, may have found a market. Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last year that nearly 40 million Americans are getting by on an average of less than six hours of sleep a day. That is significantly less than the seven to nine hours recommended by experts. And it may be more important than we think: the study was published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report.

Furthermore, sleep deprivation has been linked to depression, a weakened immune system, higher incidence of high blood pressure and workplace safety, according to the CDC.

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“I think we have cultural obstacles to overcome here,” he added. “The Europeans have really adopted this.”

Olsen is also armed with studies and endorsements that say a 25-minute nap can improve alertness by 40 percent, as power naps have been shown to do for astronauts and test pilots, according to NASA research. He also mentions Google and Apple, which have employee friendly policies that let you sleep at the office.

Candyce Parish happened to see the store and went in to find out what it was about.

“I’m the kind of person that doesn’t get a lot of sleep,” Parish, 23, explained, adding that it’s an active social life rather than a sleep disorder that cuts into her sleep time. “It’s unbelievable how much benefit you get. I just go in, rejuvenate for about 20 minutes and I’m good to go.”

Olsen will also position and set up one of his three models of nap machine – much like a small escape pod from a Star Wars movie – at your employers’ office for officially sanctioned naps.

For now, Powernaps is enjoying a budding business from BNSF Railway Co., just across the street where Parish works as a web analyst, and workers at a nearby Federal Aviation Administration operation. Traveling train crews, controllers and others in the neighborhood have begun using Powernaps to refresh for the second leg of a journey or the last half of a shift.

“They get it,” Olsen said. “Especially the tower train controllers. They work around the clock.”

The pods come in several models and range in price from $6,000 to more than $30,000 for some models of the Ovei pods, built in the United Kingdom. Ovei also builds gaming isolation pods that run almost $100,000.

Another pod, the Sleep Box, is built similarly to a Japanese micro hotel. Each pod gives you varying degrees of isolation to filter out light and sound.

Olsen, who got the idea while traveling across time zones in a previous career, said he’s had about 200 or 300 customers since Powernaps opened about two months ago and 11 paid members on the monthly plan.

“I really think that we are building out here and there is a customer base that needs our services,” he said.

For more information, visit www.powernaps.com.