Japanese Researcher Sleeps in the Same Location as Her Cat for 24 Consecutive Nights!

Cross cat nap­ping with bed hop­ping and you might end up hav­ing an “adven­ture in com­fort” sim­i­lar to the one that informs stu­dent Yuri Naka­hashi’s the­sis for Tokyo’s Hosei Uni­ver­si­ty.

For 24 con­sec­u­tive nights, Naka­hashi for­went the com­forts of her own bed in favor of a green sleep­ing bag, unfurled in what­ev­er ran­dom loca­tion one of her five pet cats had cho­sen as its sleep­ing spot that evening.

(The choice of which cat would get the plea­sure of dic­tat­ing each night’s sleep­ing bag coor­di­nates was also ran­dom­ized.)

As the own­er of five cats, Naka­hashi pre­sum­ably knew what she was sign­ing up for…


Cats rack out atop sofa backs, on stairs, and under beds…and so did Naka­hashi.

Her pho­tos sug­gest she logged a lot of time on a bare wood­en floor.

A Fit­Bit mon­i­tored the dura­tion and qual­i­ty of time spent asleep, as well as the fre­quen­cy with which she awak­ened dur­ing the night.

She doc­u­ment­ed the phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal effects of this exper­i­ment in an inter­ac­tive pub­lished by the Infor­ma­tion Pro­cess­ing Soci­ety of Japan.

She reports that she eager­ly await­ed the rev­e­la­tion of each night’s coor­di­nates, and that even when her sleep was dis­rupt­ed by her pets’ mid­dle of the night groom­ing rou­tines, bunk­ing next to them had a “relax­ing effect.”

Mean­while, our research sug­gests that the same exper­i­ment would awak­en a vast­ly dif­fer­ent response in a dif­fer­ent human sub­ject, one suf­fer­ing from ail­uro­pho­bia, say, or severe aller­gies to the pro­teins in feline sali­va, urine, and dan­der.

What’s real­ly sur­pris­ing about Nakahashi’s itin­er­ant, and appar­ent­ly plea­sure-filled under­tak­ing is how lit­tle dif­fer­ence there is between her aver­age sleep score dur­ing the exper­i­ment and her aver­age sleep score from the 20 days pre­ced­ing it.

At left, an aver­age sleep score of 84.2 for the 20 days lead­ing up to exper­i­ment. At right, an aver­age sleep score 83.7 dur­ing the exper­i­ment.

Nakahashi’s entry for the YouFab Glob­al Cre­ative Awards, a prize for “work that attempts a dia­logue that tran­scends the bound­aries of species, space, and time” reflects the play­ful spir­it she brought to her slight­ly off-kil­ter exper­i­ment:

 Is it pos­si­ble to add diver­si­ty to the way we enjoy sleep? Let’s think about food. In addi­tion to the taste and nutri­tion of the food, each meal is a spe­cial expe­ri­ence with diver­si­ty depend­ing on the peo­ple you are eat­ing with, the atmos­phere of the restau­rant, the weath­er, and many oth­er fac­tors. In order to bring this kind of enjoy­ment to sleep, we pro­pose an “adven­ture in com­fort” in which the cat decides where to sleep each night, away from the fixed bed­room and bed. This project is sim­i­lar to going out to eat with a good friend at a restau­rant, where the cat guides you to sleep.

She notes that tra­di­tion­al beds have an immo­bil­i­ty owing to “their phys­i­cal weight and cul­tur­al con­cepts such as direc­tion.”

This sug­gests that her work could be of some ben­e­fit to humans in decid­ed­ly less fan­ci­ful, invol­un­tary sit­u­a­tions, whose lack of hous­ing leads them to sleep in unpre­dictable, and inhos­pitable loca­tions.

Naka­hashi’s time in the green sleep­ing bag inspired her to cre­ate the below mod­el of a more flex­i­ble bed, using a polypropy­lene bag, rice and nylon film.

We have cre­at­ed a pro­to­type of a dou­ble-lay­ered inflat­able bed that has a pouch struc­ture that inflates with air and a jam­ming struc­ture that becomes hard when air is com­pressed. The pouch side soft­ly receives the body when inflat­ed. The jam­ming side becomes hard when the air is removed, and can be firm­ly fixed in an even space. The air is designed to move back and forth between the two lay­ers, so that when not in use, the whole thing can be rolled up soft­ly for stor­age. 

It’s hard to imag­ine the pres­ence of a pussy­cat doing much to ame­lio­rate the anx­i­ety of those forced to flee their famil­iar beds with lit­tle warn­ing, but we can see how Nakahashi’s design might bring a degree of phys­i­cal relief when sleep­ing in sub­way sta­tions, base­ment cor­ners, and oth­er har­row­ing loca­tions.

Via Spoon & Toma­go

- Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine and author, most recent­ly, of Cre­ative, Not Famous: The Small Pota­to Man­i­festo.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Relat­ed Con­tent 

A 110-Year-Old Book Illus­trat­ed with Pho­tos of Kit­tens & Cats Taught Kids How to Read

An Ani­mat­ed His­to­ry of Cats: How Over 10,000 Years the Cat Went from Wild Preda­tor to Sofa Side­kick

GPS Track­ing Reveals the Secret Lives of Out­door Cats

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