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One Small Change

Getting Melo at Yelo

I recently visited a place called Yelo, a self-billed “sanctuary” in the middle of New York City where you can nap safely and peacefully for 20 to 40 minutes. This isn’t like Central Park on a summer Sunday afternoon. Rather, it’s an upscale, high-tech escape hatch for stressed people looking to exit the busy world for a while.

Although the bulk of Yelo’s business is in massage and reflexology, what makes this little place unique is its seven “YeloCabs.” These are individual cabins with sound, light, temperature and aromatherapy systems that strive to create the perfect napping environment. At the center of each is a plush leather YeloChair that reclines to encourage relaxation and a feeling of weightlessness.

Sound enticing? I thought so. What better way for me to chase that tired, even achy feeling I get after a day of urban warfare, plus test the viability of commercial napping?

Michael Hazel is the director of operations at Yelo, which opened about two years ago at its West 57th Street location. He greets me in the serene rose-colored lobby looking more relaxed than bread dough, which is ironic because he used to work at Starbucks. “All the employees here have full access to the cabins,” he explains in a soft voice, “so we nap whenever we can.” Although this may sound counter-productive, he says it not only ensures a high degree of staff productivity, but it also serves as a form of health insurance. Indeed, some of the businesses in the midtown area use Yelo as just that—sharing the cost with employees as they would a gym membership in order to promote wellness. Indeed, during my entire 90-minute visit, I didn’t witness one yawn.

While sipping coconut/almond tea in the lobby, I complete a questionnaire that lists sound/music and aromatherapy choices for my upcoming nap. I eventually settle upon a zen soundtrack (although “animal sounds” was tempting) and a “sleep mist” comprised of lavender, cedar wood, marjoram and something called Ylang-Ylang. A woman who’s dressed sort of like a flight attendant then escorts me to my cabin and makes sure I’m comfortable in my YeloChair. She asks me to remove my shoes and jacket, programs all my relaxation choices, reclines the chair so my feet are above my head, then covers me with a thin cashmere blanket, turns off the lights and wishes me a pleasant journey.

It is so womb-like that I drift off faster than a bit of flotsam in a rip current. The chair does indeed make me feel weightless, like I’m floating out at sea or in space. The whole experience is decadently indulgent, but in no time at all the lights slowly begin to brighten (simulating sunrise) and I’m tugged back to consciousness. Unbelievably, my 40 minutes are up.

I feel at once completely satisfied and energized yet wanting to do it all over again immediately. (Sadly, there’s no 8-hour option.) My flight attendant softly knocks and pads back in, inquiring how everything went, as she efficiently readies the cabin and chair for the next exhausted client. (During my Friday afternoon visit, all the cabins seemed to be in constant use.)

Nap prices range from $15 for 20 minutes to $28 for 40 minutes. (You can add a brief massage or reflexology treatment for extra.) Was it worth it? I’d say so. It’s not something I’d do daily, but everyone should experience the art of napping which Yelo certainly elevates this to.

If New York is a long way from you, Michael suggests creating a “sleep temple” in your home using some of the same concepts that Yelo employs. There’s a bevy of soothing soundtracks on the market, and Yelo sells aromatherapy items and other sleep-enhancing products on its website (www.yelonyc.com) as do many other sources. (The YeloChair, sold under the name Human Touch Perfect Chair, is even available starting at around $1,500.) I’m halfway tempted to take the bedroom my 24-year-old son finally vacated and turn it into my own personal cocoon. (Then again, a billiards room would also be special.)

But the real potential for commercial napping, I think, is in airports, a market that Yelo is in fact trying to break. Perhaps one day similar cabins could even be installed in offices throughout corporate America, where they would help the zombie masses finally get some sleep—and something done.

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About The Author

Joe Kita – Joe Kita is a noted writer, editor, motivational speaker and teacher. He authors the blog "One Small Change" for CorePerformance.com.

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Tags: Stress, Rest, Sleep, Tired, Relaxation