Guide To Napping on Hekman’s 3rd Floor Couches

One of the many resources the Hekman Library offers is sleep. Amidst the books, articles, journals, books, movies, documentaries, music, books, librarians, friends, desks and books in the Library, we can also find couches. Yes, couches, especially the comfortable ones on Hekman’s 3rd floor. In this guide to napping on Hekman’s Library 3rd Floor Couches we explore the benefits from their use, present tips how to best enjoy them and explain what is in store for the future of this area.

Very reliable map for how to find the couches


The 3rd floor of the Library connects to the Hiemenga Hall, and the fireplace commonly called Library Lobby. The couches can be found by the Hiemenga Hall entrance, next to the graphic novels and recreational reading sections. If you need help finding your way — as Calvin college’s architecture can at times be confusing, — ask a librarian or someone where you can find the Graphic Novels section. It’ll sound reasonable enough, and your plans won’t be revealed. It’s easy to spot when you’re in the general area: you’ll notice some plump bodies of clothing enjoying their own sleep on the couches.

The Benefits of Blissful Sleep and Accepting Embarrassment

The couches were added, through funds from the Student Senate, Provost’s Office and the Library, to provide more comfortable furniture, according to David Malone, Dean of the College and Seminary Library. The area the couches are found in is designated as “Lounge Zone”, this means the area has been separated for: “[…] light reading and sustained (but quiet) conversations. Distractions are to be expected.” Many students still enjoy this area to do exactly that: light reading, entertainment and relaxation. However, the couches have been appropriated, especially in-between morning classes, as the Napping Couches.

Meredith, psychology sophomore, says: “It’s close to my next classes so it’s a nice place to relax before having to go […] especially because I live in KHvR […]” These couches central location are perfect for the in-between classes nap, saving precious time that would have been wasted walking back to the dorms, specially if you live off-campus, in the KE apartments, or at the farther dorms. A freshman, Jamie Kuiper, has already embraced the couches, she said: “I wouldn’t [recommend] them, so I could have the couches to myself.”

Dealing with sleep, everyone already certainly must know, is very important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has written an article titled “Insufficient Sleep is a Public Health Problem.” While the article highlights effects of sleep on “[…] chronic diseases, such as such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity[…]”, it also brings attention to accidents caused by lack of sleep. Sleepiness is associated with “motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors;” each year estimated 1,550 fatalities are caused by drowsy driving, according to the National Department of Transportation.

Dealing with sleepiness can be beneficial especially to those who commute, but also to the general student body. Getting a nap in between one of your classes can help you better absorb the class’ material, and prevent you from making mistakes — like when you nod off and don’t take any notes.

But if you’re embarrassed to the join the Couch Nappers, don’t worry. You’re not alone, many have gone through this process. If you ask the nappers, however, it’s a no brainer: Kelly King, a sophomore studying Linguistics, says: “Don’t worry about looking weird because so many people sleep there, so it’s really normal and comfortable; the sleep is actually so much more refreshing than you’d expect.” The couches provide a safe haven where you can nap, with little to no embarrassment since it’s socially acceptable to sleep there. Another senior commented: “Don’t worry about being judged. We’ve all been there, done that.”

The Future

While the couches provide a helpful resource, students see several improvements that can be made. In a survey done with 30 people, 73.3% of them reported founding the couches overpopulated at some impeding them from sleeping there. Most of the 36.3% who have not encountered such situation have slept very infrequently in the Library. Many of the students desire more (comfortable) couches or bean bags to solve the current overcrowding problem.

Another problem is noise within the area’s vicinity. The area is close to the entrance; people constantly walk by, they talk loudly, coming from the stairs they must open and close the very loud doors, and the printer can also be annoyingly loud. Couch sleepers suggest that the best way to provide a more “quiet,” pleasant, experience would be if the couches were moved somewhere else away from the entrance.

Other suggestions given by students were to add blankets, add more pillows, dim the lights, enforce quiet, and to basically embrace the area as a designated sleep zone. Some concerns regarding health have been brought up as well, because people drool on the couches and the covers don’t seem to get washed that frequently.

The Library staff is trying to figure out how to best serve the student body. Mr. Malone sees the need for napping spaces especially in consideration of “[…] students that live off-campus”. One Facebook post highlights the couches as place to relax and refresh. Another Facebook post illustrates this concern for rest as well. The Dean of the Library sees possibilities in the sleeping pods adopted by the library in the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), in Vancouver, pods that were installed to provide for more privacy and uninterrupted sleep. He also believes that these could be easier to clean and maintain. However, their price, of $2.000 each, is high for their purpose to provide one single person the private space for sleep. While renovation of the Library is within Calvin College’s 10-Year Plan one has to wonder whether the pods will be embraced as the best financial solution.

But the good thing is, the library is open to ideas and recognizes the need for improvements. David Malone embraces a renovation for this space: “I think there needs to be more discussion about this issue, especially as it has come up during our very initial planning stages for a library renovation […]” While the Student Senate is moving forward with renovations for the 2nd floor, and one can only hope that comfortable, sleeping, couches are a part of it, economically sustainable ideas nee to emerge in order to with the area’s major problems of overpopulation, privacy, health and comfort.

Tips for Reaping the Most Benefits from Your Time Spent in the Couches

As we wait for improvements to be done, here are some tips to improve your experience with the couches.

A map of where the couches are located. Note the cellphone charging station by the pillar.

If you’re wondering which couch to choose, your safest bet would be either one of the L-shaped one. Students seem to enjoy these two the most as it offers different sleeping positions and are the most comfortable. Just be forewarned, these couches can fit two or even three people. One of my most recent experiences, when I was sleeping on the brown one, I woke up to the presence of a couple napping next to me. To avoid such occurrences, you can adapt the strategy to “occupy as much space as possible,” as Joshua Mahers, a linguistics freshman, suggests.

Sleeping positions, from top to bottom: “I love this couch”; “I’m not hiding”; “Spread out — Pretend I was studying”; “I like to baby nap.”

But if you are comfortable with people joining you, confine yourself to one half of the L-couch. Be nice and leave that open space for someone that, like you, also needs their rejuvenating nap. For that reason, it’s also good to come early. Around 9AM, after the 8AM class, is when the couches begin to get more and more populated, reaching its peak around chapel time. Throughout the rest of the day thereafter its population fluctuates at lower levels.

Couch users also recommend to bring a scarf, hat, or extra sweater, that you can cover up your face to block out the bright harsh lighting. However, a second use of this is to block out the possible sightings of cuddling, caressing or whichever form of PDA is adopted by a couple. Usually nothing too intense happens, but it still happens. Bringing a sweater or jacket can also be used to cover part of your body. This will help divert possible onlookers, who will have a harder time identifying you, and will provide you much necessary warmth as some students pointed out.

It is fair to say that some students have been pranked while enjoying blissful sleep. But this doesn’t seem to happen to most of them. People are encouraged to be respectful and to not interfere with sacred sleep. However, if you are identified, it does happen to get a picture of yourself snapchatted. If they really are your friends, they will send it only to you and some friends, rather than putting it on their story.

Author of this guide gets caught on camera.

It might be of your interest to use the couches for their original purpose. Surrounding the couches area, you’ll find the New Books, Recreational Reading, Graphic Novels sections, and, just a bookshelf over, the Periodicals. Jamie Kuiper recommends the graphic novel Castle Waiting, by Linda Medley: “[…] a lovely graphic novel that sweeps you into a land where hens lay golden eggs and curses are real. Medley blends aspects of fairy tales we know and love into a hilarious and heart-warming story that takes place at Castle Waiting […]” Gregory Manni, a sophomore studying Biology, recommends Anya’s Ghost, by Vera Brosgol: “A charming, creepy glance at self-image and belonging, wrapped up in the high school narrative of an outsider.” In the graphic novel section, you can also find some classics like Maus I and II, Stitches and American Born Chinese. In the Recreational section, you may find books from Stephen King, Agatha Christie, John Grisham, and others like Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight sequel, if you’re into that type of reading. Whichever book you end up with is good if it helps you relax and rest. In the New Books section, it can be quite entertaining to pick up a random book to read. You could end picking something up that combined with the enchanting qualities of the couches will put you to sleep — ahhh, that blissful sleep!

When the Sleep Has Ended and Off You Go

The couches are there, but you don’t have to use them. For many of us it’d be good if you avoided them, and instead joined alongside in advocating for renovation and implementation of changes. But, if you’re one of us — famished for any increment of possible sleep — please do join us. I didn’t say this earlier, but the couches, as the Brazilian saying goes, are like a mother’s heart: there’s always room for one more.