What is a Sleeping Pod?

Are you curious about sleep pods? Want to know how they came to be?

In the early 2000s, several studies were published that offered new insights into the significance of napping, highlighting its positive effects on cognitive function, mood, and overall brain health.

One notable study is the 2003 research titled “Sleep-dependent learning: a nap is as good as a night,” conducted by Sara Mednick and her colleagues.

The 2003 study “Sleep-dependent learning: a nap is as good as a night” by Sara Mednick and colleagues concluded that taking a nap can significantly enhance learning and memory consolidation to a degree comparable to a full night’s sleep.

The research demonstrated that even short naps containing both slow-wave and REM sleep stages can effectively improve cognitive performance and procedural learning tasks. This finding emphasizes the critical role of sleep in cognitive processes and suggests that naps can be a valuable tool for improving brain function and learning efficiency.

Below is a direct quote from Ms. Mednick;

“What’s amazing is that in a 90-minute nap, you can get the same [learning] benefits as an eight-hour sleep period,” Mednick was quoted saying she went on…. “And actually, the nap is having an additive benefit on top of a good night of sleep.”

Table of contents

What is a Sleeping Pod?

Sleep pods, also referred to as nap pods or sleep capsules, are compact, self-contained spaces designed to offer a private, comfortable environment for rest and relaxation in public or semi-public settings. These pods are self-sufficient for sleep, providing all necessary amenities within a controlled space.

Defining Sleep Pods:

“Sleep pods” is an umbrella term that encompasses four distinct technological designs, each crafted to optimize rest and relaxation in various public settings in a flexible pay-per-use basis. These designs include Nap Capsule Pods, Capsule Hotels, Sleep Cabin/Mini-Suite Pods, and Premium Cabin/Suite Pods.

Nap Capsule Pods feature compact, reclining chairs that provide quick naps in settings like airports and workplaces. Capsule Hotels deliver individual sleeping pods with basic amenities and shared facilities, ideal for budget travelers.

Sleep Cabin/Mini-Suite Pods offer larger, more luxurious spaces with full beds and additional amenities for longer stays. Premium Cabin/Suite Pods provide high-end accommodations with private rooms, advanced climate control, multimedia connectivity, and en-suite bathrooms, resembling mini-hotels within airport terminals. Collectively, these designs ensure private, comfortable, and secure environments for rest, enhancing well-being and productivity for travelers and professionals.

Originating from Japanese capsule hotels, sleep pods have evolved to include adjustable lighting, climate control, and ergonomic sleeping surfaces. The term “sleep pods” encompasses a variety of brands and technologies, from nap capsule pods like GoSleep to tiny capsule hotels such as 9 Hours Capsule Hotel, to large sleep cabins such as Minute Suites and YotelAir each providing unique features tailored to short-term rest needs.

Sleep pods are innovative, compact units designed for short-term rest in public and semi-public spaces, encompassing Nap Capsule Pods, Capsule Hotels, Sleep Cabin/Mini-Suite Pods, and Premium Cabin/Suite Pods. They offer a range of amenities from basic reclining chairs for quick naps to luxurious mini-suites with full beds, climate control, and multimedia connectivity. These pods provide private, comfortable, and secure environments, enhancing the well-being and productivity of travelers and professionals in settings such as airports, workplaces, and train stations. Below are the 4 types of nap pod design technologies.

  1. Nap Capsule Pods
  2. Capsule Hotel
  3. Sleep Cabins/Mini-Suites
  4. Premium Sleep Cabin Pods

What is Nap Capsule Pod?

A Nap Capsule Pod is a compact, standalone movable unit designed in the form of a futuristic capsule, featuring a chair that reclines flat to create a sleeping surface with privacy visor that’s adjustable. These pods are specifically intended for short-term rest and relaxation in public and semi-public spaces such as airports, workplaces, and train stations.

Nap Capsule Pod by MetroNap
Nap Capsule Pod by MetroNap

These pods provide a private with essential features like USB charging ports, privacy screens, adjustable lighting, and ergonomic design to optimize comfort during brief rest periods.

GoSleep Nap Capsule Pod
GoSleep Nap Capsule Pod

Brands such as GoSleep, EnergyPod, and Jabbrrbox (Escape Pods) have developed various models, each offering unique features tailored to enhance the napping experience. Nap Capsule Pods are particularly valued for their ability to provide a secure and comfortable space for travelers and professionals needing a quick, restorative break in busy environments.

What is a Capsule Hotel?

Capsule hotels, originating in Japan, are a unique form of accommodation that provides small, compact, and efficiently designed sleeping spaces or “capsules” to guests. These capsules are typically arranged in rows and stacked two units high, resembling the berths of a train or the sleeping quarters on a spaceship. The primary aim is to maximize space utilization and provide affordable, basic lodging with essential amenities.

Capsule Hotels
Capsule Hotel Pod

What is sleep cabin/mini-suite pod?

Sleep Cabin/Mini-Suite Pod is an upscale, compact sleep units designed for extended rest and overnight stays, primarily in airport terminals. They provide enhanced comfort and privacy with full beds, sound insulation, adjustable climate control, and amenities like work desks, multimedia touchscreens, customizable lighting, and sometimes private bathrooms.

NapCabs Sleep Cabin
NapCabs Sleep Cabin/Mini-Suite

Brands such as Minute Suites, NapCabs, and ZZZleepandGo offer these pods, making them an ideal solution for travelers seeking hotel-like comfort and amenities in a compact, efficient space during long layovers or unexpected delays.

What is Premium Cabin/Suite Pods

Premium Cabin/Suite Pods are high-end, mini-hotel rooms within airport terminals, offering superior comfort, privacy, and comprehensive amenities for travelers.

YotelAir cabin sleep cabins guide
YotelAir Premium Cabin/Mini-Hotel

Designed for extended stays, they feature adjustable air-conditioning, soundproofing, secure storage, multimedia connectivity, SmartBeds, private showers, and workspaces. Brands such as YotelAir, Aerotel, and HelloSky (AirRooms) provide these pods, ensuring a luxurious experience with features akin to traditional hotel rooms.

These pods cater to travelers during long layovers or unexpected delays, providing a restful, private environment that includes advanced technology and high-quality services to enhance the overall travel experience.

Benefits of Sleep Pods: What Studies Revealed About Napping Benefits:

  1. Enhanced Cognitive Function:
    • Regular napping improves cognitive performance, including executive function, memory, and alertness. This has been demonstrated in a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, which showed that napping enhances task performance, logical reasoning, reaction time, productivity, and creativity.
  2. Brain Health Preservation:
    • Napping has been linked to larger brain volume, which is associated with better brain health and a lower risk of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia. A 2023 study by Valentina Paz and colleagues at University College London found that habitual napping could equate to a brain volume difference equivalent to 2.6 to 6.5 years of aging​ (UCL)​​ (ScienceDaily)​.
  3. Mood Improvement:
    • Napping reduces fatigue levels and boosts mood. A study published in the journal Sleep in 2023 confirmed that short naps have strong mood-enhancing effects, making individuals feel more refreshed and less stressed​ (The Healthy)​.
  4. Cardiovascular Benefits:
    • Napping may lower the risk of heart disease. A 2019 study published in BMJ Journals concluded that napping once or twice a week reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes​ (The Healthy)​.
  5. Temporary Relief from Sleep Pressure:
    • Naps help reduce sleep pressure caused by the buildup of adenosine, a chemical that induces sleepiness. This temporary relief from the urge to sleep can improve attention and productivity for a few hours​ (Med Xpress)​.

How Sleep Pods Enhance These Benefits

  • Controlled Environment:
    • Sleep pods provide a quiet, comfortable, and controlled space that is ideal for napping. Features like soundproofing and adjustable lighting create an optimal environment for relaxation, enhancing the restorative effects of naps.
  • Ergonomic Design:
    • Equipped with ergonomic sleeping surfaces, sleep pods ensure comfort and proper support during naps, which can enhance cognitive benefits and mood improvement.
  • Privacy and Security:
    • The private and secure setting of sleep pods allows individuals to rest without interruptions, maximizing the cognitive and mood-boosting benefits of napping.
  • Accessibility in Various Settings:
    • Found in workplaces, airports, and hospitals, sleep pods offer a convenient solution for short-term rest, allowing individuals to take advantage of the health benefits of napping even in busy environments.

By providing a conducive environment for effective napping, sleep pods help individuals reap the numerous cognitive, emotional, and physical health benefits associated with short-term rest.

Features of Sleep Pods:

  • Freestanding chairs: Egg-shaped chairs with head covers for privacy and comfort.
  • Soundproofed rooms: Enclosed spaces equipped with beds to minimize noise and enhance rest.
  • Lockable storage: Secure compartments for personal belongings.
  • Electrical outlets: Built-in power sources for charging electronic devices.
  • Aisle lights: Low-intensity lights to guide users within the pod.
  • Tent-like canopies: Fabric enclosures providing additional privacy and darkness.
  • Sensors: Devices monitoring environmental conditions and pod usage.
  • Electronic verification systems: Security features verifying user identity for access.
  • Lighting: Adjustable LED lights to create a comfortable ambiance.
  • Alarm signal buzzers: Timed alarms to wake users after a nap.
  • Ventilation systems: Climate control systems ensuring fresh air circulation.
  • Motion sensors: Devices detecting occupancy and controlling lighting and ventilation automatically.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity: Internet access for users to stay connected.
  • Multimedia systems: Built-in screens and audio systems for entertainment.
  • Adjustable bedding: Ergonomic beds that can be configured for optimal comfort.
  • Privacy curtains: Additional layers to enhance privacy within the pod.
  • Climate control: Personal temperature settings to ensure a comfortable environment.
  • Hygienic surfaces: Easy-to-clean materials to maintain cleanliness and hygiene.
  • Portable design: Lightweight and modular construction for easy transport and setup.
  • Emergency call buttons: Quick access to help in case of emergencies.
  • Interactive touchscreens: User-friendly interfaces for controlling pod features.
  • Bluetooth speakers: High-quality sound systems for personal music and audio.
  • Sleep monitoring: Integrated systems to track sleep patterns and provide feedback.
  • Customizable settings: Personalized options for lighting, sound, and temperature preferences.
  • Integrated aromatherapy: Diffusers for relaxing scents to enhance rest.

Sleep Pod Make Great Nap Amenities in Various Facilities:

Nap pods are used by a diverse group of individuals, including business travelers at airports who need a quiet place to rest between flights, and employees in high-stress industries like technology and finance aiming to boost productivity and reduce burnout​​. Healthcare professionals in hospitals use nap pods to take restorative breaks during long shifts, maintaining high levels of patient care​. Students at universities employ nap pods to combat sleep deprivation and improve focus during study sessions​.

Additionally, visitors to public spaces like libraries and shopping malls, as well as guests in transit hotels, use nap pods to recharge and enhance their overall experience​.

Airports

  • Purpose: Provide travelers a private, soundproof space to rest between flights.
  • Features: Ergonomic bedding, adjustable lighting, and charging stations.
  • Examples:
    • GoSleep pods at Abu Dhabi International Airport.
    • Minute Suites at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Philadelphia International Airport.

Workplaces

  • Purpose: Enhance employee productivity and well-being.
  • Features: Space for short, refreshing naps during the workday.
  • Examples:
    • Google, Samsung and Facebook have installed sleep pods to boost creativity and reduce burnout. See details of companies utilizing sleep pods on this Guardian Article such as Nike, Procter & Gamble.
    • Zappos offers EnergyPods to employees, promoting better work performance and job satisfaction. Here are 10 companies utilizing sleep pods.

Hospitals

  • Purpose: Provide healthcare professionals rest during long shifts and support patient families needing overnight stays.
  • Features: Comfortable rest environment to maintain high levels of care and alertness.
  • Examples:
    • Johns Hopkins Hospital has implemented sleep pods for staff.
    • University Hospitals in Cleveland use sleep pods to contribute to better health outcomes and job satisfaction​.

Universities

  • Purpose: Support student well-being and academic performance by addressing sleep deprivation.
  • Features: Quiet, comfortable space for students to recharge.
  • Examples:
    • University of Michigan offers sleep pods in its libraries for short naps.
    • Stanford University provides nap pods to help students recharge between classes and study sessions​.

Public Spaces

  • Purpose: Offer people a quick respite from their activities.
  • Features: Enhance visitor experiences and promote mental health.
  • Examples:
    • Helsinki Public Library has introduced sleep pods for visitors to rest and recharge.
    • Shopping malls in Dubai use sleep pods to provide a unique value-added service that improves customer satisfaction​​.

Defining Sleep Pods vs. Regular Sleep Beds

Sleep pods offer a modern solution for short-term rest, providing a private, controlled environment designed to enhance relaxation and productivity. These pods are commonly used in airports, workplaces, hospitals, universities, and public spaces to cater to individuals needing a quick respite.

Key features of sleep pods include soundproofing, ergonomic design, adjustable lighting, climate control, and secure storage, which differentiate them significantly from regular sleep beds.

Regular sleep beds, while providing comfort and support for extended sleep periods, lack the advanced technological and privacy features inherent in sleep pods. The comparison below highlights the distinct attributes of each, underscoring the suitability of sleep pods for short-term, high-quality rest in various environments.

Comparison Table: Sleep Pods vs. Regular Sleep Beds

FeatureSleep PodsRegular Sleep Beds
DesignCompact, ergonomic, soundproofedLarger, designed for home use, not soundproofed
PrivacyHigh, with private enclosures and curtainsLow, open to room environment
LightingAdjustable LED lightsStandard room lighting
Climate ControlIntegrated personal climate controlRoom-based climate control
SoundproofingHigh, designed to minimize external noiseNone
PortabilityHigh, often modular and portableLow, typically stationary
ConnectivityWi-Fi, USB charging ports, and multimedia systemsNone or limited to home setups
SecurityLockable storage and electronic verificationNone
MonitoringSleep monitoring systemsNone
CustomizationCustomizable settings for lighting, sound, temperatureLimited to room environment
Emergency FeaturesEmergency call buttonsNone
Usage EnvironmentPublic spaces like airports, workplaces, hospitalsPrivate homes
PurposeShort-term rest and napsLong-term, overnight sleep

This comparison highlights that while regular sleep beds are suited for long-term, uninterrupted overnight sleep, sleep pods provide an enhanced, private environment for short-term rest, making them ideal for public and semi-public spaces where quick, restorative naps are beneficial.

What Airport Sleeping Pods are not in summary:

Sleep pods are not traditional hotel rooms or full-service accommodations with extensive amenities and superior comfort. They lack features such as full-sized bathrooms, extensive food selections, and recreational facilities like pools and gyms. Additionally, sleep pods are distinct from airport lounges which most do not operate 24/7, and which typically offer a range of complimentary snacks, beverages, and comfortable seating areas, often tied to airline status or membership fees. Pods are open 24/7 with straightforward pay-per-use pricing based on period.

Moreover, private sleep spaces in lounges such as the Polaris Lounge in Dulles Airport and Aspire Lounge in Calgary Airport are not sleep pods, as they do not operate 24 hours a day and are offered as complimentary services while the lounges are open. Sleep pods, in contrast, are designed to be accessible at any time, providing flexible, around-the-clock rest options.

Sleep pods are not fully private spaces; while they provide more privacy than open airport seating, they may still have semi-enclosed designs with sliding doors or curtains and can lack soundproofing.

They are designed primarily for short-term rest and convenience rather than extended stays or luxurious accommodations. Additionally, sleep pods do not typically include personal customer service interactions, as many use automated check-in systems and have minimal staff presence on-site. They focus on providing a functional and efficient place to sleep or rest during layovers, catering specifically to the needs of transit passengers.

Worth noting also that accommodation types exceeding 10 square meters should not be classified as sleep pods unless they slightly exceed this limit by a few square meters and have several key sleep pod features such as flexible hourly pricing, customizable booking hours, and affordable rates. More details below.

What Fliers Should Expect When Sleeping in Airport Sleeping Pods

  1. Compact Space: Sleeping pods are designed to maximize space efficiency, providing a small, enclosed area just large enough for a bed and essential amenities. Expect a tight space that focuses on functionality rather than luxury.
  2. Privacy: Pods offer a degree of privacy with enclosed or semi-enclosed sleeping areas, often featuring sliding doors or curtains. While more private than open airport seating, expect limited privacy compared to a hotel room.
  3. Comfortable Sleeping Arrangements: Equipped with a comfortable bed, often featuring quality mattresses and bedding. Suitable for short naps or overnight rest, providing a better sleep experience than airport benches or chairs.
  4. Hourly Pricing: Available for rent on an hourly basis, allowing flexible booking to match your layover or travel schedule. Pay only for the time you need, with many providers offering options for both short and extended stays.
  5. Basic Amenities: Includes essential features such as power outlets, USB ports, Wi-Fi, and sometimes reading lights. Convenient access to charge devices and stay connected, with minimal frills.
  6. Noise Levels: Pods may not be fully soundproof; noise from the surrounding airport environment can sometimes be heard. Bring earplugs or use provided white noise machines to mitigate ambient noise.
  7. Climate Control: Some pods include air conditioning or climate control systems to maintain a comfortable temperature. Adjust temperature settings within the pod to ensure a comfortable sleeping environment.
  8. Shower Facilities: Availability of showers varies; some brands offer shared or private showers, while others do not. Check in advance if shower access is important, as this feature is not guaranteed in all sleep pods.
  9. Minimalistic Design: Designed with a focus on functionality and efficiency, often featuring a sleek, modern aesthetic. Expect a clean, uncluttered space that prioritizes practical use over decorative elements.
  10. Booking Flexibility: Flexible booking options are available, including hourly rates and overnight stays. Customize your booking based on your specific needs, whether for a short nap or a full night’s rest.
  11. Security Features: Pods often include secure locks or access control systems to ensure safety. Feel secure leaving your belongings in the pod while you rest, though always keep valuables close.
  12. Limited Food Services: Most sleep pods do not offer extensive food services; some may have vending machines or nearby access to airport restaurants. Plan to purchase meals outside the pod, as dining options within are minimal.
  13. Shared Facilities: Some pods may have shared facilities like bathrooms and lounge areas. Be prepared to share common areas with other travelers, similar to a hostel environment.
  14. Advanced Technology: Some brands include advanced features like smart beds, white noise machines, and entertainment systems. Enhanced comfort and convenience with modern technological amenities in certain pod models.

By understanding these aspects, travelers can better prepare for their experience in airport sleeping pods, ensuring they make the most of their rest time during layovers and delays.

16 Benefits of Sleep Pods

  1. Flexible Booking Options: Available for rent on an hourly basis, allowing travelers to customize their stay according to their layover or travel schedule. This pay-per-use model is ideal for both short naps and overnight stays.
  2. Compact and Space-Efficient: Designed to maximize space efficiency, sleep pods provide all necessary amenities within a small, enclosed area, making them an excellent option in space-constrained environments like airports.
  3. Privacy: Offer a degree of privacy with enclosed or semi-enclosed sleeping areas, often featuring sliding doors or curtains. This provides a more private rest experience compared to open airport seating.
  4. Cost-Effective: Generally lower in cost than traditional hotel rooms, sleep pods offer a budget-friendly option for travelers needing short-term rest without the expense of a full night’s hotel stay.
  5. Convenient Location: Typically situated within airport terminals, sleep pods are highly accessible and eliminate the need for transportation to and from an off-site hotel, saving travelers time and hassle.
  6. Essential Amenities: Include essential features such as a comfortable bed, power outlets, USB ports, Wi-Fi, and sometimes reading lights, providing a convenient and functional space for rest.
  7. Enhanced Sleep Quality: Some sleep pods offer soundproofing, climate control, and white noise machines to create a conducive sleep environment, enhancing the overall quality of rest.
  8. Sustainability: Many sleep pods are constructed using eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient technologies, contributing to a smaller carbon footprint and appealing to environmentally conscious travelers.
  9. Security Features: Equipped with secure locks or access control systems to ensure the safety of personal belongings, providing travelers with peace of mind while they rest.
  10. Minimalistic Design: Focus on functionality and efficiency with a sleek, modern aesthetic, ensuring a clean and uncluttered space that prioritizes practical use over decorative elements.
  11. Quick Turnaround: Easy and fast check-in and check-out processes, often facilitated by self-service kiosks or digital check-in systems, allowing travelers to make the most of their time.
  12. Adaptable to Various Needs: Suitable for a wide range of travelers, including business professionals needing a quiet space to work, tourists seeking a brief rest, and transit passengers with long layovers.
  13. Reduced Noise Levels: Advanced pods offer soundproofing to minimize external noise, creating a quieter environment compared to the general airport terminal.
  14. Tech-Enabled Comfort: Some sleep pods feature advanced technology such as smart beds, customizable lighting, and entertainment systems, enhancing the comfort and convenience for tech-savvy travelers.
  15. On-Demand Availability: Often available 24/7, allowing travelers to rest at any time of day or night, which is especially beneficial for those with irregular travel schedules.
  16. Cultural Adaptation: Designs are often adapted to meet cultural preferences, ensuring a comfortable and appropriate experience for travelers from different regions.

By offering these benefits, sleep pods provide a practical, comfortable, and efficient solution for travelers needing rest in transit, enhancing the overall airport experience.

Size of Sleep Pods:

The compact design is central to the Metabolism movement in Japan, which inspired the original concept of sleep pods. To maintain this essence, we classify sleep pods as accommodations with spaces not exceeding 10 square meters. The first capsule hotel, a product of the Metabolism architecture movement, defined this concept with dimensions of 2 meters long, and 1.2 meters wide, totaling 2.4 square meters.

However, some modern brands offer larger spaces. Minute Suites provides 5.2 square meters, NapCabs offers 8 square meters, and YotelAir starts at 9 square meters. First Cabin in Kansai and Haneda Airports in Japan have cabins ranging from 2.5 to 4.4 square meters.

Meanwhile, sleep pod cum hotel brands may offer different accommodation sizes depending on the location. For instance, at Beijing Capital Airport, Aerotel provides some spacious 18 square meter rooms, which do not qualify as sleep pods, but also has smaller rooms that may barely meet the sleep pod size criteria at 11 square meters. However, at other locations, such as Sydney Airport, Aerotel offers sleep rooms measuring as small as 7 square meters, perfectly fitting our definition of sleep pods.

Our classification ensures that only truly compact spaces, faithful to the original sleep pod design, are recognized as such. This distinction helps to preserve the integrity of the sleep pod concept, focusing on efficiency and minimalism.

Below is an image of Nakagin Tower which housed Nakagin Capsule Hotel with floor space measuring 6.25 sq meters(2.5 meters by 2.5 meters)

Image showing Nakagin Capsule Tower with Capsule Hotel Rooms

Floor Space Measurements of Different Sleep Pod Brands

Sleep Pod BrandLocationFloor Space (sq meters)
Nakagin Capsule HotelTokyo, Japan6.25
Traditional Capsule Hotel DesignVarious Countries(origin: Jp)2.4
First CabinKansai, Haneda2.5 – 4.4
Minute SuitesVarious Airports5.2
ZZZleepandGoVarious Airports3 – 5
NapCabsVarious Airports8
YotelAirVarious Airports9 – 25
Sleep n’ FlyDubai Airport4 – 7
GoSleepVarious Airports<3
AerotelVarious Airports7 – 30
This table highlights the floor space measurements of various sleep pod brands, showcasing the diversity in design and accommodation sizes across different locations.

Guide on How Sleep Pods Operate

Securing Concessions and Space

  1. Concession Agreements:
    • Revenue Share Model: Some sleep pod operators, such as ZZZleepandGo, secure the right to use terminal space by entering into revenue-sharing agreements with the airport. In this model, the operator manages the pods and shares a portion of the revenue generated with the airport.
    • Outright Concession Payment: Other operators such as Minute Suites opt to pay a fixed fee to the airport for the concession space. This fee grants them the right to independently run the sleep pods within the designated terminal area, allowing them to retain all revenue generated.

Operational Logistics

  1. Location and Accessibility:
    • Sleep pods are typically located within airport terminals, strategically placed near boarding gates, lounges, or other high-traffic areas to maximize accessibility for travelers.
    • The convenient location within the terminal eliminates the need for transportation to and from off-site accommodations, making it easier for travelers to rest during layovers or delays.
  2. Booking and Check-In:
    • Digital Check-In: Many sleep pods use automated, digital check-in systems. Travelers can book pods online or through kiosks at the airport. For example, YotelAir sends guests a QR code for keyless entry, while ZZZleepandGo allows entry via a phone number provided during registration.
    • Flexible Booking Options: Sleep pods can be rented on an hourly basis, providing flexibility to match travelers’ schedules. This model is ideal for short naps or overnight stays.
  3. Amenities and Services:
    • Essential Amenities: Sleep pods typically include a comfortable bed, power outlets, USB ports, Wi-Fi, and sometimes reading lights. Advanced pods may offer soundproofing, climate control, and white noise machines.
    • Minimal Food Services: Food options are usually limited, with some pods featuring vending machines. Travelers are expected to utilize airport dining facilities for meals.
  4. Maintenance and Cleaning:
    • Pod Brand Staff: The maintenance and cleaning of sleep pods are managed by the operator’s staff. This ensures that the pods are kept clean, functional, and ready for the next guest.
    • Regular Upkeep: Operators perform regular maintenance to address any issues promptly, ensuring a high standard of hygiene and operational efficiency.
  5. Security Features:
    • Access Control: Sleep pods often have secure locks or digital access systems to ensure the safety of guests and their belongings.
    • Surveillance and Safety: Some pods are monitored by security cameras, and the airport’s security infrastructure adds an additional layer of safety.

Benefits to Airports and Travelers

  1. Income Stream for Airports:
    • The presence of sleep pods generates additional revenue for airports, either through direct revenue sharing or concession fees. This enhances the airport’s overall service offering, making it a more attractive hub for travelers.
  2. Convenience for Travelers:
    • Sleep pods provide a practical solution for rest within the airport, catering to the needs of transit passengers, business travelers, and those with long layovers. Their strategic location and flexible booking options enhance the travel experience by offering a convenient and comfortable place to rest.

By understanding how sleep pods operate, travelers can better appreciate the value they bring to airport environments and the convenience they offer during transit.

Key Differences Between Hotels, Airport Lounges, and Sleep Pods

Hotels, airport lounges, and sleep pods cater to different traveler needs with unique features. Hotels offer high privacy with individual rooms, full-sized beds, extensive amenities (restaurants, pools, gyms), and generally require overnight bookings. Located outside airports, they provide a quiet, private environment at a higher cost, ideal for tourists and business travelers.

Airport lounges provide moderate privacy with shared spaces, limited sleeping facilities, and basic amenities (snacks, drinks, Wi-Fi, showers). They are easily accessible within airport terminals, moderately priced, and primarily serve frequent flyers and business travelers.

Sleep pods offer moderate to high privacy with enclosed, compact sleeping spaces designed for short-term use, featuring hourly pricing for flexible bookings. Essential amenities include beds, power outlets, and Wi-Fi, with limited shower facilities and minimal food services. Located within airport terminals, they are highly accessible and generally lower in cost, ideal for transit passengers and short layovers.

This summary emphasizes the primary differences and services provided by hotels, airport lounges, and sleep pods.

Feature/AspectHotelsAirport LoungesSleep Pods
PrivacyHigh privacy with individual roomsModerate privacy, shared spacesModerate to high privacy, enclosed pods
Sleeping FacilitiesFull-sized beds, various room typesLimited, some lounges offer sleep roomsCompact beds designed for short-term use
Hourly PricingGenerally not availableNot typically offeredCore feature, often hourly rental options
AmenitiesExtensive (restaurants, pools, gyms, etc.)Basic (snacks, drinks, Wi-Fi, showers)Essential (bed, power outlets, Wi-Fi)
Shower FacilitiesPrivate bathrooms in each roomAvailable in some loungesLimited, varies by brand
Food ServicesFull-service restaurants and room serviceLight snacks and beveragesMinimal, some have vending machines
Noise LevelsGenerally quiet, private environmentModerate, dependent on lounge occupancyVariable, some pods offer soundproofing
Booking FlexibilityTypically requires overnight bookingAccess usually tied to airline status or feeHighly flexible, hourly and overnight rates
LocationExternal to the airport, often nearbyWithin the airport terminalsInside the airport, near gates and lounges
AccessibilityMay require transportation to/from airportEasily accessible within airportHighly accessible, located within terminals
CostVaries, generally higher for premium hotelsModerate, access fees or membershipsGenerally lower, hourly rates
SecurityHigh, individual room locks and securityModerate, secure entry but shared spaceModerate to high, depending on design
Technology IntegrationVaries, often includes TVs, smart controlsBasic (Wi-Fi, charging stations)Advanced in some brands (smart beds, white noise)
Target UsersTourists, business travelers, long staysFrequent flyers, business travelersTransit passengers, short layovers
This table highlights the primary differences between hotels, airport lounges, and sleep pods, emphasizing their unique features and the types of services they provide to travelers.

Blankets May Come with an Additional Fee:

While all sleep amenities, including pillows and blankets, are standard in hotels, they are not always included in sleep pods and may come with an additional fee. For instance, Minute Suites provides blanket rentals, and ZZZleepandGo specifically requests that clients bring their own blankets. Travelers should be prepared for the possibility of limited bedding supplies in sleep pods and check ahead to see if these amenities are provided or if they need to bring their own. Being aware of these details can help ensure a more comfortable and hassle-free rest experience in sleep pods.

Be Ready for Self Check-in with Tech-enabled Processes:

Some sleep pod brands have embraced a fully digital experience with self-check-in processes, eliminating traditional customer support at the point of entry.

For example, YotelAir sends guests a QR code to use as a key for their keyless cabins, while ZZZleepandGo allows guests to unlock their pods using the phone number provided during registration.

Although this technology-driven approach aims to streamline the check-in process, there have been complaints about it not being as seamless as intended. However, improvements are expected over time.

If you prefer interacting with a real person to get your questions answered and to be personally welcomed, make sure to book with a sleep pod brand that offers a 24/7 helpdesk. Alternatively, consider opting for airport hotels that provide full customer service to ensure a more traditional and supportive check-in experience.

Sleep Pods are not the same as Airport Lounge Cabins:

Sleep pods, distinct from comfortable seating spaces in airport lounges, are specialized, enclosed units designed explicitly for sleeping, offering privacy and noise reduction.

While some airport lounges, such as Calgary Airport’s Aspire Lounge and American Airlines’ Polaris Lounge, provide complimentary sleep booths or private sleep spaces, these do not qualify as sleep pods. In addition, Relaxation Pods in Auckland Airport which are only available from 4:30 AM to 11 PM also do not meet the sleep pod requirement.

These lounges offer these sleep amenities only during their operational hours, not 24/7. In contrast, sleep pods are typically accessible around the clock, often located in public areas of the airport, and available for rent on an hourly basis, ensuring travelers have a consistent, private place to rest irrespective of lounge hours.

Sleep Pods are Meant to Be Budget-Friendly and More Affordable than Airport Hotels:

Sleep pods are intended to offer a budget-friendly alternative to traditional hotel accommodations, particularly for travelers needing rest during layovers. In Asia, Japanese capsule hotels exemplify this affordability, with nightly rates typically ranging between $40 and $60.

This pricing is consistent across most capsule hotels in the region. However, in Western countries, sleep pod providers like Yotel and Minute Suites charge significantly higher rates, often three to four times the price of their Asian counterparts.

These higher costs are justified by claims of advanced technology and enhanced sleep amenities, such as Yotel’s smart beds and sleep-enhancing technologies, and Minute Suites’ noise-canceling headphones and white noise machines.

Nonetheless, the emphasis on these premium features to justify elevated prices undermines the primary purpose of sleep pods: to provide accessible and affordable sleep solutions for travelers. The focus should remain on delivering basic, essential sleep amenities at a reasonable cost, ensuring that travelers can rest without financial strain.

Sleep Pods do not prioritize offering food services:

Capsule hotels and sleep pods generally do not prioritize food services, as they are often located in areas with easy access to a variety of restaurants and dining options.

Some brands, like ZZZleepandGo, provide basic amenities through comfort vending machines, while Minute Suites offers a stocked fridge with snacks and beverages. A few brands, such as YotelAir, offer limited dining options, including continental breakfasts and simple menus for breakfast and dinner at select locations like Gatwick and Charles De Gaulle.

However, reviews frequently criticize the lack of comprehensive food options at many sleep pod locations. If you are seeking premium dining experiences with buffet breakfasts and full meals, sleep pods are not the best choice.

For instance, First Cabin at Osaka Kansai and Haneda Airport does not offer on-site dining facilities, highlighting the common trend among these accommodations. Travelers should plan to utilize nearby restaurants for their dining needs when using capsule hotels or sleep pods.

You may or may not find showers at different sleep pods:

Sleep pods often do not provide shower facilities, as their primary focus is on maximizing revenue-earning potential within the premium space of airports.

For instance, NapCaps and ZZZleepandGo do not offer shower facilities at all. Minute Suites provides showers at select locations, but these are not universally available.

Brands like First Cabin and 9Hours offer shared shower facilities, maintaining a balance between space efficiency and guest needs.

YotelAir stands out by offering private capsule rooms equipped with showers, catering to travelers seeking more comprehensive amenities.

It’s important to note that the availability and pricing of shower facilities vary: some providers, like YotelAir, include showers in their rates, while others, such as Minute Suites, offer them as a separate service, costing $30 for non-guests and $20 for guests.

Travelers should be aware that if shower access is a priority, they should verify the specific amenities of their chosen sleep pod provider.

Beware of the claustrophobic sensation that some compact capsule hotels may induce:

Capsule hotels, with their compact design, can induce a claustrophobic sensation in some travelers. Typically, these capsules measure around 2.4 cubic meters, with dimensions of approximately 1.2 meters wide, 2 meters long, and 1 meter high. We have a guide on how to overcome sleep pod claustrophobia.

Brands like izZzleep in Mexico City, Yellow Capsule Hotel near Cancun Airport, 9 Hours Capsule Hotel, and Avagard Capsule Hotel at Bangkok Airport all adhere to these space-efficient designs. While this compactness ensures privacy and efficient use of space, it can feel confining for some guests.

To cope with the small sleeping space, travelers should prepare mentally by knowing what to expect and employ strategies to make their stay more comfortable. Bringing personal comfort items, such as a favorite blanket or pillow, can create a sense of familiarity.

Practicing relaxation techniques, like deep breathing or meditation, can help alleviate feelings of confinement. Additionally, using earplugs and an eye mask can enhance the sense of personal space by reducing external stimuli.

Travelers should also utilize communal areas, if available, to avoid prolonged periods in the capsule. Understanding these aspects and planning accordingly can significantly improve the experience in capsule hotels.

For travelers who experience claustrophobia, there are alternatives to the traditional capsule hotel design that offer more spacious and open accommodations.

Brands like First Cabin in Osaka and Haneda, as well as Minute Suites and Yotel, do not utilize the row-style stacked design with the compact, cocoon-like shape typical of capsule hotels. Instead, First Cabin provides more expansive cabin-like rooms that resemble first-class airline suites, offering greater headroom and space.

Minute Suites features private suites with enough room to stand and move around, while Yotel offers cabin rooms equipped with modern amenities and additional space, often including private bathrooms.

These alternatives provide a less confined environment and can be a more comfortable option for claustrophobic travelers. When booking, consider these brands to ensure a more relaxing and accommodating stay.

Take note of the communal aspect of the original sleep pods concept:

The original design concept of sleep pods emphasized communal use over individual privacy, which was not a primary consideration in early iterations.

For instance, 9 Hours Capsule Hotel at Narita Airport and Avagard Capsule Hotel at Bangkok Airport feature sliding curtain doors instead of solid, soundproof barriers. This design choice can lead to potential disturbances from the surrounding environment, such as noise, snoring, and other forms of interference from neighboring pods.

Travelers using these sleep pods should be prepared for these possible disruptions and consider strategies to mitigate them. Bringing earplugs, using noise-canceling headphones, and employing white noise apps can help create a more peaceful sleeping environment.

Understanding the communal nature of these sleep pods and planning accordingly can significantly enhance the overall experience, ensuring a more restful stay despite the inherent design limitations.

There are more private sleep pods brands though:

It is worth noting that some of the latest sleep pod brands, such as Yotel, NapCaps, and Minute Suites, have emphasized soundproofing their rooms to distinguish themselves from the original sleep pod model.

This shift reflects a broader trend among Western pod brands, which prioritize privacy to cater to cultural preferences.

And Japanese brands are adapting as well. For instance, First Cabin in Japan offers a model of cabins with real doors for added privacy.

Minute Suites enhances the experience with white noise machines, while Sleep n’ Fly at Doha’s Hamad Airport provides earphones for entertainment, helping guests overlook the noise challenges common in public airport terminal areas.

These improvements ensure a quieter, more private stay, addressing one of the primary concerns with traditional sleep pods.

Hourly Pricing is a core feature for sleeping pods:

One of the standout features of sleep pods is their flexibility in accommodating travelers’ varied schedules through hourly pricing.

This pay-per-use model allows guests to book pods at any time of the day, customizing their rest period according to their flight schedules. For example, Minute Suites requires a minimum booking of 2 hours, catering to those with short layovers. Similarly, Sleep n’ Fly at Dubai and Hamad Airports offers pricing for durations between 0 to 4 hours. GoSleep in Helsinki has 2 and 5-hour slots as well as overnight options.

This flexibility is particularly beneficial for travelers who need to rest for a few hours without committing to a full night’s stay, making it a cost-effective solution. Some hotels, like the TWA Hotel at JFK, have recognized this advantage and now offer minimum bookings of 4 hours.

This trend highlights the growing demand for adaptable rest options within airports, ensuring that all travelers, regardless of their layover duration, can find a suitable and convenient place to rest.

Nighttime Rates and Extended Stays

In addition to hourly pricing, many sleep pod providers offer flat nighttime rates to accommodate travelers needing longer rest periods.

This option is ideal for those with overnight layovers or flights that require an extended stay. Minute Suites, for example, offers an overnight rate of $195 for bookings from midnight to 8 am, providing a comfortable and private space for a full night’s rest.

ZZZleepandGo follows a similar model, with nighttime rates starting at 61 euros for stays from 11 pm to 6 am. These flat rates offer a predictable and affordable option for travelers who need to maximize their rest during overnight layovers.

By providing both flexible hourly rates and extended nighttime options, sleep pod brands cater to a wide range of traveler needs, enhancing the overall airport experience.

Advanced Technology Integration

The integration of advanced technology is another key trend among modern sleep pod brands, aimed at enhancing the comfort and convenience of their offerings.

For instance, Yotel incorporates smart beds that can be adjusted for optimal comfort and equipped with mood lighting to create a relaxing environment.

These technological features are designed to provide a high-quality sleeping experience, comparable to that of a premium hotel room, within the compact space of a sleep pod.

Minute Suites also leverages technology by offering amenities like white noise machines and free Wi-Fi, allowing travelers to work, relax, or sleep undisturbed. By incorporating such innovations, sleep pod brands can provide a more personalized and comfortable experience, catering to the needs of tech-savvy travelers.

Strategic Locations and Accessibility

Strategic placement within airports is a crucial factor contributing to the success of sleep pods. By situating pods in high-traffic areas such as near boarding gates, baggage claim areas, and airport lounges, brands ensure maximum visibility and accessibility for travelers.

For example, NapCaps are conveniently located within major European airports, providing easy access for passengers looking for a quick rest. Similarly, Sleep n’ Fly pods are strategically placed within transit zones of Dubai and Hamad Airports, catering to international travelers with long layovers.

This strategic location maximizes convenience, allowing travelers to rest without straying far from their departure gates, thereby reducing stress and ensuring they are well-rested for their onward journeys.

Sustainability and Environmental Considerations

Sustainability is an increasingly important consideration for sleep pod brands. As environmental consciousness grows among travelers, these brands are incorporating eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient technologies into their designs.

For instance, many sleep pods are constructed using sustainable materials and utilize energy-saving LED lighting to reduce electricity consumption. Additionally, sleep pods typically require less space and resources than traditional hotel rooms, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint for users.

By promoting sustainable practices, sleep pod brands not only contribute to environmental conservation but also appeal to the growing segment of eco-conscious travelers. This commitment to sustainability helps brands differentiate themselves in the market and align with global efforts to promote greener travel solutions.

References:

  1. Nature Neuroscience study on cognitive performance: Mednick, S., Nakayama, K., & Stickgold, R. (2003). Sleep-dependent learning: A nap is as good as a night. Nature Neuroscience, 6(7), 697-698.
  2. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism study on stress reduction: Naska, A., Oikonomou, E., Trichopoulou, A., Psaltopoulou, T., & Trichopoulos, D. (2007). Siesta in healthy adults and coronary mortality in the general population. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 92(1), 327-335.
  3. NASA study on performance and alertness: Rosekind, M. R., Smith, R. M., Miller, D. L., Co, E. L., Gregory, K. B., Webbon, L. L., & Johnson, J. M. (1995). Alertness management: Strategic naps in operational settings. Journal of Sleep Research, 4(S2), 62-66.
  4. Sleep journal study on learning and memory: Tucker, M. A., & Fishbein, W. (2008). Enhancement of declarative memory performance following a daytime nap is contingent on strength of initial task acquisition. Sleep, 31(2), 197-203.
  5. Archives of Internal Medicine study on cardiovascular health: Naska, A., Oikonomou, E., Trichopoulou, A., Psaltopoulou, T., & Trichopoulos, D. (2007). Siesta in healthy adults and coronary mortality in the general population. Archives of Internal Medicine, 167(3), 296-301.
  6. American Journal of Physiology study on alertness and motor skills: Gillberg, M., Kecklund, G., Axelsson, J., & Akerstedt, T. (1996). The effects of a short daytime nap after restricted night sleep. American Journal of Physiology, 270(5), R1030-R1036.
Image of Nathan Kip Rotich

Nathan helps travelers find the most comfortable sleep setups during layovers, from cozy airport hotels to futuristic sleep pods. His insights aim to transform layovers into rejuvenating sleepcations, offering travelers an alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable benches.