I have already had my requisite two and a half cups of coffee today, and yet as I sit here writing this, I yawn. It's Friday at 3 p.m. and I could so use a cat nap. But since I don't work at Google and we don't have nap pods around every corner, that's not really an option. Enter Recharj -- D.C.'s first napping and meditation studio!
The concept originated out of sheer necessity for owner and founder Daniel Turissini, who is a high-level executive at a think tank. Turissini had gotten hooked on meditation through free mid-day classes offered at the Freer Gallery, but when the classes were discontinued due to construction, Turissini tried to find alternate locations to meditate. After unsuccessfully trying out various parks and hotel lobbies, he decided to simply build the solution to his own problem, including power nap options.
"We've heard from so many people who said they would go out to their cars and sleep in the parking garage on breaks and they are thrilled we are here," says studio manager Christine Marcella. "We are happy to give them an alternative to those car naps or Starbucks runs, as a place where they can come in and reboot their day."
In the heart of downtown D.C. on the busy corner of 15th St and New York Ave, you could walk right by Recharj without even noticing it! But for those in the know, the studio offers customers the option of enjoying a 20-minute power nap or 20-minute meditation class throughout the day Monday-Friday for $15. The truly sleep deprived can choose to book a back-to-back session, but 20 minutes has been scientifically proven to be the most beneficial time for a power nap; naps lasting longer than 60 minutes veer towards the delta wave state or deep REM sleep, which is the type of nap that leaves you feeling more tired than when you laid down.
Given that most people typically only have a 30-minute lunch break, Recharj aims to get customers in and out and back to work as efficiently as possible, thus everything is driven through the web. Customers book a session online, reserving a time and even selecting a specific "nap cocoon." Once you arrive, you check in on the iPad positioned right outside the door and then you are directed to your nap cocoon or mediation pad. For both sessions, shoes are removed and phones must be turned all the way off, not on vibrate. Nap customers will settle into their cocoons, where they'll find a human-sized, oblong beanbag where they'll sleep, an eye mask, blanket and pillow. Once you settle in, the lights go off and the binaural tones specifically formulated to entice "conscious napping" start playing and you relax. At the end of 20 minutes, an alarm goes off and the lights gradually come back on and you're done. Each nap session can accommodate 13 people in individual nap pods.
Luckily, even if you aren't able to fall completely asleep in 20 minutes, you'll still reap the benefits of a power nap, because according to Recharj's website "napping isn't the same as sleeping."
To get the benefit of a refreshing power nap, you don’t need to fall asleep. It’s enough to relax yourself and let your thoughts drift off, even while remaining mostly awake.
The goal of a power nap is to reach the stage two or conscious nap state. Here, your brain slips into a fade away state, where you're aware that you're napping and you hear things going on around you, but you just don't care. It is the phase right before deep REM sleep, and when you awake from the 20 minutes you should feel refreshed, not groggy.
Though Recharj has only been open for a few weeks, and opened with very little fanfare, Marcella says the customer base is currently evenly split between the napping and meditation classes, though a few customers will come in for both and nap and then meditate, or vice versa. Recharj also offers a private room for anyone who already has their own meditation practice and just needs a space.
Just a note, the classes are conducted inside a secure building (The National Saving And Trust Company ) and all visitors will need an ID to check in with the front desk guard before proceeding into Recharj.
You can also check out Eileen Whelan's live experience from Recharj for Good Morning Washington here or watch the video above.