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"Science fiction operates a little bit like science itself, in principle. You've got thousands of people exploring ideas, putting forth their own hypotheses. Most of them are dead wrong; a few stand the test of time; everything looks kind of quaint in hind"
- Peter Watts

Napcap Induction Cap  
  A device that aids sleep and relaxation by working with the subject's brain waves.  

It is not clear how this device affects the sleep patterns of the user. In most biofeedback devices, the user interacts in a more conscious level with the machine.

Fatigue bent her like decades, and she was overjoyed to see the blinking yellow sign of a Napcap rental facility.

A few meager credits remained on her debit card. She would invest them in a decent snooze.

She punched her card into the Napcap's slot. The lid lifted and she crawled inside. It shooshed down. The inside received her as a womb...

The induction cap was not needed, but it snuggled neatly onto her head anyway. Servos wound their way to their appointed places with automated ease. Premoistened contact points hugged temples and brow. A trickle of entraining current eased her into a deeper slumber...

Ordinary human sleep varies greatly in depth and quality, a vestigial remembrance of the time when Homo habilis need to cycle between deep sleep and near waking, lest in a comalike slumber he fall prey to carnivores. In the napcap a client became an instant yoga master, able to stay in the deepest states for hours, increasing the value of each minute's rest manyfold.

From Saturn's Race, by Larry Niven (w/S. Barnes).
Published by Tor in 2000
Additional resources -

I foresee a rewriting of the Christmas classic:

...mama in her kerchief, and I in my Napcap
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap..."

Biofeedback training seeks to familiarize yourself with patterns in your body's activity that are not normally conscious. A thermometer is a simple example of getting information about your body state that you cannot access easily yourself. Biofeedback lets you learn to change body states; without the feedback, you would be operating blind, that is, without true information.

The napcap, however, seems to be able to impose a sleep rhythm on the user.

The comment about the reason for sleep is interesting, too: there is a lot of discussion about why animals sleep, and whether or not prey animals sleep less than predators. There is a well-established relationship between daily sleep and size; small mammals like bats sleep about 20 hours per day, chipmunks 15 hours. Elephants sleep about 4 hours per day; pilot whales about 5. See The Phylogeny of Sleep for an interesting discussion. See also the technovelgy item cold sleep from novels by Robert Heinlein.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Saturn's Race
  More Ideas and Technology by Larry Niven (w/S. Barnes)
  Tech news articles related to Saturn's Race
  Tech news articles related to works by Larry Niven (w/S. Barnes)

Napcap Induction Cap-related news articles:
  - Nap-Cap - How About A Hat-Tip For Larry Niven?
  - Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation May Provide A Napcap
  - Sleepbox Like Niven's Napcap
  - Insomnia? Try Cooling Your Brain

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