The notion of sleeping at work isn’t very well received by the industry. Companies equate napping with laziness, and lazy or not, you might get chastised or even fired if you’re caught trying to catch a few winks.
But the fact is that today nearly everyone is sleep-deprived, and sleepy workers are irritable, likely to make mistakes and cause accidents, and more susceptible to heart attacks and gastrointestinal disorders.
That costs money and disrupts lives.
For hundreds of years in Latin America and in Europe, everyone quit work for a couple of hours in the mid-afternoon and went home for a refreshing nap. However, siestas are becoming a thing of the past. As countries become more industrialized and transportation to and from work more congested, the siesta has all but disappeared. Too bad. Time for change!
A coffee or cola break, perceived as a legitimate part of the workday, does provide momentary feelings of alertness. But drinking too much caffeine will be followed by feelings of lethargy and reduced REM sleep that night. A debt in your sleep bank account, the cause of midday sleepiness, is not reduced by these artificial stimulants.
Why not attack the problem directly and get some needed sleep? We must strive to recognize brief naps as legitimate, and much more valuable than coffee breaks.
The corporate culture will gradually change as information on the tremendous cost of sleep deprivation, and on the biphasic pattern of natural sleep, become more widespread. Accepting the concept of napping will reduce errors and accidents, raise job satisfaction, reduce illness and ultimately improve the bottom line. What your companies lose in time they can make up in increased productivity. It’s a win-win situation that should make sense to everyone.
Since corporations have accepted the concept of “power breakfasts,” I coined the term “power nap” to encourage institutionalization of naps at work. A recent survey indicated that many executives take brief naps in the office to recharge their batteries. Why not allow all workers to have the same privilege?
In many corporate offices comfortable couches and sleep-friendly office furniture for midday snoozes are replacing hard-backed chairs. Cots are becoming available in lounges off the factory floor. And it’s working wonders. Employees are more alert, more productive and less accident-prone.
Napping at the Office
If you’ve convinced the boss, or if you are the boss, take a nap on your work break. Here’s how to make naps work:
Forty million Americans are now working full or part time in the home and a good portion are probably taking naps. The emphasis is going to be on what is produced, not on where you work at what time of the day or how long you work. Napping should not be frowned upon at the office or make you feel guilty at home. It should have the status of daily exercise.
Showing how naps and good sleep strategies can quickly restore alertness, enhance performance, reduce mistakes and accidents, and affect profits is a quick way to grab any CEO’s attention. Talk to your boss, give him or her some literature or tapes on sleep deprivation and performance, or invite a sleep expert to give a seminar at your company.
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