Naps At Work: A Lighthearted Look

by Michael Haberman on August 6, 2008 · 0 comments


The subject of naps at work come up occasionally in conversations with HR people. Generally in a group of people talking about how sleep deprived they are. Ina group of HR Twitterers naps and sleep deprivation gets frequently mentioned. In an article Five Things You Must Know About Sleep author Robin Lloyd points out that there are some misconceptions. One is that we sleep more and better than we think we do. I am sure many will debate this, but Robin has the numbers to back it up.

Another point made in the article is that if you feel like it you can sleep like a baby, that is taking naps. “Multiple, shorter sleep sessions nightly, rather than one long one, are an option. So-called polyphasic sleep is seen in babies, the elderly and other animals (and Thomas Edison reportedly slept this way). For the rest of us, it is more realistic and healthy to sleep at night as best we can and then take naps as needed. EEGs show that we are biphasic sleepers with two alertness dips – one at night time and one mid-day. So talk to HR about setting up a nap room, like they have for NASA’s Phoenix mission team members.”

I personally have always been a fan of naps. Short power naps. It is a habit I picked up while traveling for business. That 20 minutes you get as the plane is taking off and before the flight attendants ask you “Would you like something to drink?” (Hint: the further you are back in the plane the longer you get to sleep. Of course it takes longer to get off the plane too, so you have to make a trade-off, longer nap vs. getting to freedom.) One of the good things about this habit is that it is done sitting upright. This skill can transfer nicely to your desk and still give the appearance that your are working. (I do not recommend this for while you are driving however. Quality may become impaired when you hit the car in front of you.)

While researching this topic (and I use “research” here in a very loose sense, as in one Google) I came across this take on naps. It is written by Galen Black of the Van Gogh-Goghs on Wasting Time at Work. He says “Lots of people want to take naps at work. This is very dangerous and should only be attempted by the most seasoned napper. No matter how many news magazines do stories on how taking naps improve employee performance in other countries, you will never be paid to sleep here in the U.S of A. The USA work ethic hates sleep, even the good “8 hours a night” kind. “ Now, today, some enlightened employers do offer nap opportunities. However, I think Galen is right. It will rub most employers the wrong way and we HR people will be working on offering these employees plenty of sleep time, at home. Galen does offer the following tip, taken from the Nap Play Book (which I was unfortunately unable to find):

“Nap #643 — Fill a coffee mug. Find a low traffic area in the office and spill the contents of the mug on the floor. Lay down on the floor face first with your coffee mug laying on the spill. The purpose is to make it look like you fell, passed out or tripped on something. After you place yourself in position, go to sleep. If someone finds you, they’ll rush to your aide. Have an excuse ready. They’ll think you are hurt or sick, but don’t let them send you home. You don’t want to eat up sick leave, that’s your personal time. Never repeat this exercise in the same location and don’t do it too often. This nap will be less effective if you snore. If you snore while you sleep it’s tougher to pass off sleep as unconsciousness. (Naps can buy you any where from 10 minutes to several hours depending on where you take the nap).”

So how many of you are enlightened nappers? Or enlightened employers? Or are you just tired from reading about napping and want to lay down right now? Sleep well and don’t let the bed bugs bite.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Cathy Missildine-Martin, SPHR August 6, 2008 at 2:20 pm

I had to wake up to post this comment…I think a nap a day keeps the Doctor away. On a serius note, I was visiting a client last week, where I walked into the ladies room and say an employee napping on a sofa. At this location, a 15 minute power nap is the norm. I did think to myself…most people would be fired for that!

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