“Yawn”: Lack of Sleep and the Benefit of a Power Nap

by Michael Haberman on March 10, 2008 · 0 comments


Like alot of other people in the United States, the Spring change to Daylight Saving Time made me groggier than usual. Plus an early wake up call today, the late onset of daylight and exercise all contributed to me feeling like a nap was necessary. A study just released by the National Sleep Foundation entitled Longer Work Days Leave Americans Nodding Off On the Job: Sleepy Americans Doze Off At Work, In the Car and On Their Spouses, showed that “Prolonged work days that often extend late into the night may cause Americans to fall asleep or feel sleepy at work, drive drowsy and lose interest in sex, according to a new Sleep in America poll released today by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF). Spending an average of nearly 4.5 hours each week doing additional work from home on top of a 9.5 hour average workday, Americans are working more and are trying to cope with the resulting daytime sleepiness. In fact, 63 percent state they are very likely to just accept their sleepiness and keep going, while 32 percent are very likely to use caffeinated beverages when they are sleepy during the day and more than half (54%) are at least somewhat likely to use their weekends to try to catch up on sleep.” (Click on the title to read the entire study.)

I know alot of people who fall into this catagory. And obviously Starbucks, Caribou and others all count on this in their strategic plans. The only good thing I can see in the statistics stated above is with people losing interest in sex maybe sexual harassment complaints will go down. (Said tongue-in-cheek.)

As a result of airplane travel I have become a big believer in the 20 minute power nap. (That is about the time you get to close your eyes between waiting for take off and the drink cart coming around.) Stress management expert Elizabeth Scott, states that “Studies show that 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon provides more rest than 20 minutes more sleep in the morning (though the last two hours of morning sleep have special benefits of their own). The body seems to be designed for this, as most people’s bodies naturally become more tired in the afternoon, about 8 hours after we wake up.”

Scott points out that there are major problems with sleep deficits, “…a ‘sleep deficit’, … impairs the following:

  • Reaction time
  • Judgment
  • Vision
  • Information processing
  • Short-term memory
  • Performance
  • Motivation
  • Vigilance
  • Patience

Fatigued people also experience more moodiness, aggressive behaviors, burnout and more stress.”

An issue of Men’s Journal stressed the benefits of the power nap and said that high performers such as Lance Armstrong and Around the World pilot Steve Fossett are regular power nappers. Not only does it make you more alert and productive but also “..Napping in general benefits heart functioning, hormonal maintenance, and cell repair…”

I have read of several companies that encourage naps. What a great employee relations and productivity tool.

So do yourself a favor and go take a nap. But don’t make it too long because then you will just be having to take more work home and staying up later. A “Catch-22” situation. (Some of you may have to Google that.)

Ok, time for my snooze….

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