Heard on the Hill: Sleep Tight

Posted January 28, 2011 at 5:08pm

Seems like it was only a matter of time before somebody thought of this gimmick.

The chain store Sleepy’s, “the Mattress Professionals,” announced last week that it will give “the gift of better sleep” to freshman Members of Congress who spend their nights snoozing in their Congressional offices. After reading a CBS News story about 21 new Members who catch their z’s in their Hill digs, the chain thought it would be a nice gesture to provide pillows, spokeswoman Briana Papa tells HOH.

Papa says the company is working with offices to deliver the pillows. Although the pillows aren’t likely to break ethics gift rules because they are valued at less than $50, it could be tricker rules-wise as to whether accepting them violates guidelines prohibiting Members from endorsing products. 

Papa says the chain’s goal isn’t to get anybody in trouble, but to provide some comfort. “We’re obviously not going to push them on them for whatever reason,” she says.

Patrick Griffin, a government professor at American University whose work experience includes stints on Capitol Hill and in the Clinton White House, says Sleepy’s doesn’t appear to be lobbying for anything — except maybe some easy publicity. 

“This is really about creating some attention for this company and using the Congress as a backdrop,” Griffin says. “I don’t think they really care what the Congress thinks.”