Why I Paid $25 to Take a Nap (And You Should, Too)

As a self-professed productivity junkie, I‘ve always regarded naps as a weakness. Why waste time sleeping when you could be Getting Things Done? But after years of running on fumes and gallons of coffee, I hit a wall. No amount of caffeine or time management hacks could compensate for the toll of chronic sleep deprivation.

That‘s when I discovered the Dreamery, a napping oasis in the heart of New York City where anyone can book a 45-minute rest session for $25. Launched in 2018 by mattress startup Casper, the Dreamery aims to make napping as accessible and socially acceptable as a SoulCycle class.

While paying to nap struck me as ridiculous at first, I was desperate enough for rest to give it a try. And after dozing off in my private nook, I had to admit: I was hooked. Here‘s why my Dreamery experience converted me into a nap evangelist, and why investing in sleep might be the smartest productivity hack of all.

The Struggle Is Real

First, some context on just how sleep deprived we‘ve become. According to the CDC, over one-third of American adults regularly clock less than the recommended minimum of seven hours per night. For many, it‘s even worse:

Hours of Sleep Percentage of Adults
<4 hours 2.3%
4-5 hours 5.9%
5-6 hours 18.6%
6-7 hours 27.0%
7-8 hours 31.3%
>8 hours 14.6%

Source: CDC, 2014

Imagine the outcry if a third of the population was regularly going without adequate food or water. Yet when it comes to sleep, deprivation has become the norm – even a badge of honor in our hustle-obsessed culture.

The consequences are no joke. Sleep deficiency is linked with a laundry list of health issues like depression, weight gain, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer‘s, and even early mortality. Lack of sleep impairs cognitive performance, decision-making, emotional regulation, and motor skills. Drowsy driving alone causes over 6,000 fatal crashes per year.

All this to say: The struggle is real, and it‘s costing us more than we realize – an estimated $411 billion per year in the U.S. alone, or 2.28% of the GDP, according to RAND. If we don‘t take action, we‘re on track to be the most underslept, overworked, burnt out society in history.

The Power of the Nap

So what‘s an exhausted human to do, short of moving to Spain? Enter the power nap.

The idea of a midday snooze is nothing new. From the Roman siesta to the Japanese inemuri, plenty of cultures have long embraced strategic daytime dozing. Yet somewhere along the way, America got stuck in a vicious cycle of trading sleep for productivity.

But here‘s the ironic twist: Shorting yourself on sleep is one of the worst things you can do for your output and performance, both short and long term. On the flip side, a well-timed nap is like a cheat code for your brain and body.

The science is clear: Naps boost alertness, improve reaction time, lift mood, and enhance creative problem solving. NASA found that a 26-minute "NASA nap" enhanced pilot performance by 34% and alertness by 54%. Another study showed that a 60-90 minute nap was as good as a full night‘s sleep for learning a visual perception skill.

Plus, because of the way our sleep cycles work, you can reap these rewards without the post-nap grogginess. The key is keeping it short (10-20 minutes) or long (60-90 minutes), and timing it before 4pm to avoid disrupting night sleep.

So if the research is so compelling, why aren‘t we all penciling in daily siestas? Enter the Dreamery‘s mission to make naps cool again.

Nap Goals

On paper, the Dreamery‘s premise seems bougie and bizarre: Pay $25 to sleep in a souped-up pod for 45 minutes in the middle of Manhattan. But in person, it starts to make sense.

Tucked away from the bustle of the city, the spa-like "nap lounge" eases you into rest mode with muted lighting, calming scents, and a galaxy of twinkling LED stars. For your session, you‘re escorted to a private nook equipped with Casper‘s famously comfy mattress and pillows.

From there, you can change into silky pj‘s, slather on some fancy skincare samples, pop in Sleepytime tea-flavored gummies (no really), and plug into a guided meditation. It‘s like crawling into a womb engineered for optimum peace, quiet, and zzz‘s.

I‘ll admit, it took me a few minutes to settle in and get over the weirdness of paying to sleep in a pod while strangers did the same on the other side of the curtain. But once I surrendered to the experience, I was out cold – and somehow woke up 45 minutes later feeling like I‘d returned from another astral plane.

Maybe it was the comfy mattress or the meditative soundscape. Or maybe it was the permission to prioritize my rest and wellbeing, free from guilt or FOMO. In a world that glorifies the grind, there‘s something radically luxurious and restorative about declaring "I‘m going to nap now" – and having a place to do it.

A Movement, Not Just a Mattress

But the Dreamery is about more than just selling $25 naps to weary city dwellers, as nice as that is. It‘s the physical manifestation of Casper‘s mission to elevate sleep as a pillar of wellness on par with fitness and nutrition.

Since launching in 2014 as a "sleep startup", Casper has worked to shift cultural norms and conversation around sleep through its products, content, and experiences. Along with pioneering the bed-in-a-box phenomenon, they‘ve published a beloved newsletter about sleep, created pop-up bedtime stories for adults, and opened nap tours on double-decker buses.

The Dreamery is their boldest offline bet yet. But it‘s not a quirky one-off. As Eleanor Morgan, Casper‘s SVP Experience told me, "The problem we‘re trying to solve is not just to sell mattresses, but engage people with sleep. The Dreamery is a way to spark a cultural movement and make sleep aspirational."

In other words, just as SoulCycle and Dry Bar reframed cycling and blowouts as covetable self-care indulgences, Casper wants to do the same for naps. And they‘re betting big on in-person "napertunities" as a vehicle for shifting mindsets and behaviors.

Since opening in 2018, Casper has brought mini Dreamery pop-ups to SXSW, Coachella, and partner HQs. They‘ve teamed with American Express to study how rest impacts productivity. The Dreamery itself has expanded to new locations in airports, hotels, and co-working spaces.

Imagine if every workplace had a nap room as an employee perk. If you could book a nook after a red-eye instead of drooling on your suitcase at the gate. If "grabbing a pod" was as normal as grabbing a latte. That‘s the (pipe)dream – and Casper isn‘t the only one banking on it.

Big players from Google to NASA to Mercedes are investing in nap infrastructure to boost wellness and performance. "Sleep spas" are popping up coast to coast. The "sleep economy" is projected to be worth $585 billion by 2024.

Clearly, there‘s demand for new solutions. But is the Dreamery a gimmick, or the future of sleep culture? Are people really willing to shell out $25 for a glorified power nap?

To Nap, or Not to Nap?

I‘ll be the first to say, on principle, it seems absurd to charge for something our bodies give us for free. Especially when you could just as easily doze off in the park, on the subway, or under your desk – as 50% of Americans admit to doing anyway.

But that‘s the point. We shouldn‘t have to sneak naps in a supply closet or book a $25 pod to get rest when we need it. Just as we‘ve woken up to the nonnegotiable role of sleep for our health and happiness, it‘s time to embrace napping as a normal, vital, human activity – not a lazy or unproductive one.

The aha isn‘t that we need to fork over cash for a fancy nap. It‘s that we need to grant ourselves permission to rest, wherever we can, without shame or apology. If the Dreamery opens more minds (and schedules) to the power of strategic shut-eye, I‘m here for it.

Because here‘s the deal: We‘re in the midst of a sleep loss epidemic that‘s draining our quality of life – and most insidiously, fooling us into thinking we‘re doing just fine without it. Reclaiming our right to rest isn‘t just about feeling and performing better. It‘s about being better humans for each other and ourselves.

So next time you have a chance to squeeze in 20 minutes of zzz‘s, take it – and don‘t feel guilty for a second. While you‘re at it, push for nap-friendly policies and spaces at your workplace. Spread the gospel of the glorious snooze to other sleep-deprived souls. Be a warrior for rest and renewal in a burned out world.

I can‘t say whether I‘ll be shelling out for another session at the Dreamery anytime soon. But I will be giving myself more permission to pause when my body says it needs it. And if that means occasionally paying $25 for the privilege of a 7th inning stretch in my busy day, it‘s a small price for the priceless returns of more presence, creativity, joy, and humanity.

Those are benefits I‘d wish for everyone. In the quest for a well-rested world, I‘m grateful for anyone – even a mattress company – giving us a gentle nudge to close our eyes. One nap at a time, we might just get there.