A Facilitated “Cat Nap” as a Stress Reduction System in Academic Settings
Node Smith, ND
A recent study supports a very holistic and functional way to address stress among teenagers – at school. The study has been ongoing in New Mexico, by four faculty members at New Mexico State University in collaboration with local high schools.1 The study’s intent has been to find effective measures to remedy stress among adolescents, who as a population are under enormous amounts of stress, from multiple different areas of their lives.
EnergyPod and the SleepWing
The research has been following two stress reduction devices, the EnergyPod and the SleepWing. Both devices are units which give a person a place to relax and sleep. The research has been conducted by placing these units in nurses’ offices at local high schools and allowing teens to use them during times of agitation.
“Cat Nap” for Stress
The EnergyPod is a system that you actually lay inside of for roughly 20 minutes. It is basically a little “cat nap,” says Stephanie Lynch, assistant professor in the NMSU School of Nursing and co-author of the study. Users put on headphones and listen to relaxing music. The SleepWing is basically the same process, however the device is placed under a pillow, making it more portable.
Nurses noticed less agitation after students had rested in the EnergyPod
The stress reduction “napping systems” had been purchased years earlier and used when students would be brought in after fighting or other instances of agitation. The nurses noticed that when students were allowed to rest in the EnergyPod for 20 minutes they were a lot less agitated than students merely resting on a nurse’s cot, and were able to return to class. Students not using the EnergyPod often had to be sent home. This was noticed in 2009.
Both devices in use since 2009
Since 2009, both devices have been used at several high schools in New Mexico. The SleepWing is utilized at Mayfield High School and Arrowhead Early College High School, and the EnergyPod is used at Las Cruces, Onate, Gadsden and Chaparral high schools.
It lets students go back to class after times of anxiety, stress, agitation, etc
Students are able to use the pods when they are anxious, having a bad day, or when they are agitated. They simply go and use the system for 20 minutes. “The nice thing about it is the students go back to class. They don’t have to call their mothers; they don’t have to miss a day of school,” says Lynch. In fact, at some of the high schools, teachers are using them as well. The devices are also being seen to help the sensitivities to light and sound that accompany migraines.
Study looked at 99 students from four high schools
The actual study looked at 99 students from four high schools. All the participants reported feeling agitated. All of the participants showed “an improvement in their mood after being in the SleepWing or EnergyPod for 20 minutes.”
Goal: start using the stress reduction systems in nursing programs and other high stress academic programs
There is a desire to start using the stress reduction systems in nursing programs and other high stress graduate programs. The research on these applications is likely to begin at NMSU.
- Lynch S, DeBlieck C, Summers LC, Reinhardt A, Borges W. Adolescent Stress Treatment Study: A Cluster Randomized Trial. Clinical nursing research. 2018; [pubmed]
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Node Smith, ND, is a naturopathic physician in Portland, OR and associate editor for NDNR. He has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine among the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend camp-out where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Four years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision.