1. You're Running on Empty
Workers of the world, come clean: Who among us hasn't laid our
head on the table, dozed off on a conference room couch, or curled up
behind our desk in the middle of the day? Don't feel guilty. You're not
alone. The Pew Research Center reported in 2009 that about 34 percent of
adults surveyed had napped during the previous day. We are an exhausted
crew. Most working Americans sleep six or less hours a night, instead
of the recommended 7 to 9 hours.
2. You're Working Longer, Getting Less Done
Americans have the
longest working hours in the industrial world. Twenty percent of adults
say they are so sleepy that it interferes with their daily activities.
Eighty five percent of 30-something women report feeling tired on a
regular basis. Chronic exhaustion means that despite long hours on the
job, our productivity is less than optimal.
3. Dozing at the Wheel is Dangerous
For those who drive to work, lack of sleep can be hazardous.
Drowsy driving causes approximately 100,000 car crashes annually, with
younger people being the most at risk. While getting a full night's
sleep before driving is the ideal, taking a short nap before driving can
reduce a person's accident risk. Experts suggest that if you're tired
before you get behind the wheel, try grabbing a "caffeine nap." Drink a
caffeinated beverage, recline your seat, doze for 20 minutes, and wake
up ready to go.
4. Catching ZZZs is Better than Coffee.
Most of us rely on artificial stimulants to power through the day, with full-time employees consuming on average 3 cups of coffee/soda per day. Caffeine enhances alertness and concentration. But its effects, if any, on higher cognitive functions like learning and memory are debatable. In terms of really recharging one's mind in the middle of the day, what most of us need, experts say, is a good nap.
For night shift workers, however, researchers have found that a combination of naps and caffeine had the most beneficial effect. The nap-and-caffeine cocktail improves alertness and performance during hours when the body is naturally inclined to sleep.
5. Naps are Good for You.
Napping is an age-old
tradition. In many countries, workers still take a siesta in the
middle of the day. Research has shown that afternoon drowsiness is part
of the body's natural rhythm, not just a response to a heavy lunch.
Most of us agree that sleep is nice, but does it help our brains?
Actually, yes. NASA research has determined that a 26-minute nap can
boost workplace performance by 34 percent. Daytime sleeping improves
mood, creativity, and focus, all of which may make us better employees.
6. Naps are Good for Companies.
Check out these companies that have shunned the stereotype of
the lazy napper and integrated napping into their corporate culture.
- Nike, the company urging everyone to "just do it," has relaxation rooms so its employees can periodically do the opposite.
- Google lets employees snooze inside individual napping pods.
- Zappos.com, features a “quiet room” with
couches for naps. It previously had napping pods, but employees
preferred couches, so the room was changed back.
- Gould Evans Goodman Associates, a Kansas City architectural firm, provides "spent tents" equipped with pillows, blankets and alarm clocks.
- Yarde Metals, a Connecticut-based metal
manufacturer and distributor, has a corporate leisure room with a
waterfall, off of which are four smaller rooms, equipped with leather
recliners, where employees can stretch out 20-30 minutes at a time.
- Lippe Taylor, a New York public relations
agency, has Serenity Rooms outfitted with large sofas, blankets and
cozy chairs (cell phones and Blackberry's not welcome).
7. Naps are the Perfect Medicine
It turns out that napping makes you happy and
healthy. A 20-minute power nap three times a week can reduce the rate
of heart disease in healthy individuals by 37 percent, according to a
study by the Harvard School of Public Health. So, along with diet and
exercise, make naps a part of your wellness regimen.
8. Naps Boost the Economy
Tired employees constitute a $150 billion-a-year drain on
American businesses in the form of lost productivity, health care costs,
and employee absences. Corporations that allow short naps report
reduced incidents of accidents and errors, and claim that it's worth the
slightly shorter workday, because napping improves overall
productivity. So grab a pillow and a comfy blanket, and start improving
your company's bottom line!
9. Naps on the Job - a Growing Trend.
The concept of napping at work is growing in popularity. Thirty-four percent of American workers surveyed by the National Sleep Foundation say
that their workplace permits napping during work breaks; 16 percent
report that their employer even provides a place for them to nap.
Companies that are most likely to allow napping include those that
require employees to work long hours or those having late shifts.
Although the workplace nap phenomenon is growing, many
companies have not warmed to the idea. The visual of people sacked out
in the conference room simply doesn't fly with management. And indeed,
for many of us, the concept of sleeping at work feels risky, especially
given today's precarious job market. We would rather be seen diligently
typing, not drooling on the keyboard, should the boss look in.
But with so many Americans napping anyway - slumped against
their walls and hovered over keyboards - isn't it time to call a spade a
spade? Tired people will sleep, crouched behind the copy machine if
they must. Companies like Google and Zappos.com that face this reality -
and don't stigmatize their employees for being exhausted - might be
well positioned to attract the best talent moving forward.