Napping has been endorsed by everyone from NASA to the NBA. Studies have shown it can boost your brainpower, improve performance, help with weight loss and even enhance your libido!
But as compelling as all that is — who has time for a nap?
Enter the Ostrich Pillow, an invention out of a Madrid architecture and design studio that basically allows a human to do the equivalent of an ostrich putting their head in the sand in order to create a quiet space anywhere to nap — from the office to an airport.
The product, which has been called everything from “super cool” (The next Web) to “the most ridiculous idea ever to get funded on Kickstarter” (BusinessInsider.com) was born from the fact that its creators themselves worked long hours, had peaks and troughs in productivity and creativity — and learned that a nap could make a huge difference.
The product makes you laugh the minute you see it (hence the “ridiculous” description) and makes whoever is wearing it look like a hammerhead shark. The pillow slips over the napper’s head, with a breathing hole around the face and two holes in the sides above the head to put your hands — which makes sense when you’re lying face down on the desk — not so much when you’re sitting upright at the airport.
“We wanted something that would give us a feeling of a different environment — a microenvironment if you like,” said Ali Ganjavian, a partner at the Kawamura-Ganjavian design firm and co-creator of the pillow. “So you could feel that you were away from the madness and had ‘space’ from the outside world. That’s what gave us the cocoon idea,” he said.
The product has been so successful on crowdfunding site Kickstarter.com that it’s already doubled its goal of raising $70,000 and still has more than a week to go.
“We discovered that thousands of people around the world shared our need to nap and we just had to share our dream with you,” Ganjavian says on the promotional video on Kickstarter.
So, yes they take their product very seriously — and yes, they’re aware that people are giggling about the product.
“We think it’s great that people are seeing the ostrich pillow and talking about it. Naturally, we have comments and questions ranging from ‘Is it real’ to ‘We would like to buy these for our army unit,’” Ganjavian said. “We design objects that are intended to be fun and functional so we are not surprised with the joke comments!”
Wait — army units?!
And, while it may seem like a joke product to some, the inventors cite several sober facts for why they decided to get into the napping market: 1) power naps have been shown to improve productivity by more than 30 percent and 2) the well-being market is HUGE — be it alternative therapies, exercise, supplements, spas – or vehicles for mobile napping.
This is what you call a “feeder product,” much like those five-fingered running shoes, where it’s something most people buzz about rather than buy (early on, anyway), said Mike Michalowicz, a consultant for entrepreneurs and the author of “The Pumpkin Plan” and “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.” The people who buy it are the early adopters, he said.
Michalowicz actually has a pair of those five-fingered running shoes, which his wife calls his “clown shoes.”
“Why do early adopters exist? You want to achieve some form of recognition or celebrity status for being a little bit different in some small way,” he said.
The operative word being “small” way.
“If I decided to do something extreme and become a nudist, my friends wouldn’t follow me. In fact, they’d probably disassociate with me,” he said. “But if I do something different in small way – five-fingered running shoes or an ostrich pillow – I become a conversation point.”
And the fact that people are laughing about it isn’t a detractor — it’s actually a key to the product’s potential success.
“Any product that’s new is resistant,” Michalowicz said. “You crack that resistance by making it humorous. People will mock it first, then adopt it later.”
The more people hear about it and then see it on people, the more likely they are to buy it.
Take those five-fingered running shoes. At first people made fun of them — calling them clown shoes and the like — then gradually became more comfortable with the novelty as they started to see them all around. Soon, he said, people reach a point where they rationalize a need for the product. With the shoes, it’s walking better, being healthier — I need it.
“With the ostrich pillow, first people will see it and make fun of it, then start justifying why they need to have it,” Michalowicz said. “Humanity has always needed a nap! You start justifying – then you buy it.”
Michalowicz said if this were his product, he wouldn’t spend a dime on advertising the product — he’d spend his marketing budget paying actors or models to wear the ostrich pillow in public.
“Hire a guy to go sit in JFK airport and just ostrich out!” Michalowicz said.
I think he just coined a catch-phrase. You know what’s next don’t you? “Ostrich Out” T-shirts!
And if you’re still wondering why you might need an ostrich pillow, here’s Ganjavian’s 30-second elevator pitch:
“Modern life is busy. We don’t give ourselves enough love, time or space. The ostrich pillow provides that – and all it asks for is 20 minutes!”
Oh, and if you get any flack about being lazy for napping at your desk, consider the following facts:
- NASA studies have shown that brain function improves dramatically when taking a nap.
- Some of the biggest catastrophes in recent history, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Union Carbide chemical explosion in India and the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl have all in some way been linked to employees suffering from lack of sleep.
- Researchers have found that people who took naps at least 3 times a week had a 37% lower risk of heart-related deaths.
- NBA players have been known to nap regularly, especially before games, to help with their performance.
- Sleep deprivation “dampens sex drive and sexual function. Napping reverses those effects,” Sara C. Mednick wrote in “Take a Nap! Change Your Life.”
Suddenly, a pillow that makes you look like a hammerhead shark doesn’t look so ridiculous anymore, does it?!
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