9 Tips on Napping at Work

by Salary.com Staff - Original publish date: January 18, 2012

Last week, we brought you "9 Reasons You Should Nap at Work," which discussed the benefits of daytime snoozing and highlighted some companies that encourage their employees to nap on the clock.

This week we tackle the more practical aspects of catching some ZZZs at work.

1. Understand your company's culture and rules

Before you put your head down on your desk and start snoring, do your homework.

Many employers discourage napping. Others consider it grounds for firing. Gradually, however, more companies are allowing or even promoting naptime in the office. Some progressive companies have even outfitted special napping rooms. Ask coworkers or consult with human resources personnel to gauge the landscape.

2. Sleep after lunch

Prime naptime is 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. That mini-dip in energy you experience after lunch is biological, not the result of your food digesting.

3. Eat well, drink well

In the hours before your sleep, avoid consuming caffeine, fat, carbohydrates or sugar. An ideal pre-nap cocktail is a warm glass of milk, just like you learned as a child.

4. Get comfortable

Sleeping at work won't match curling up in your bed with the shades drawn. But do your best to create an environment that is quiet and dark. If you don't have a couch or chair, try sleeping on the floor (a yoga mat, pillow, and blanket can be stashed behind your desk). Put on some eye shades and calming music and say goodnight.

5. Get rid of any nap guilt

Naps are great for health and productivity. Still, deep down, many of us feel like slackers for sleeping at work, which makes it hard to drift off. Try to clear your mind of this guilt and focus on the positive aspects of your choice. Know that you're in good company. Some of the world's greatest achievers were/are nappers, including Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Lance Armstrong, and Bill Clinton.   

6. Sleep for 10-30 minutes

Research shows that a 10-minute nap produces the most benefit in terms of reduced sleepiness and improved cognitive performance. If you sleep for more than 30 minutes, you may wake up feeling groggy.

7. Don't oversleep

Plan the length of your nap and set an alarm (e.g., on your cell phone) for wakeup. Being late for a meeting because you overslept under your desk won't bode well with the boss.

8. Can't nap at work?

Sleep here. For a fee. If crashing at work is off limits, treat yourself at a nap boutique - if one exists in a downtown or shopping center near you. New York City's Yelo, a corporate wellness center, offers clients $24 naps in private sleep cabins (aptly named YeloCabs) for up to 40 minutes. AtMetroNaps, on the 22nd floor of the Empire State Building, weary souls can climb into an EnergyPod and doze off to tranquil music. At the Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minnesota, Power Nap Sleep Centers provide shoppers a horizontal break for 70 cents a minute.

9. Try Promoting a "Nap Culture" at Work.

If your company is currently "on the fence" about napping, try educating your colleagues about the benefits of catching a few daytime winks. In some workplaces, dialogue about napping just has never really happened. You might be the one to get the ball rolling. Here are some pointers:

  • Emphasize that napping at work is different from "sleeping on the job." It is an investment in the health of the company and the employees alike.
  • Mention the benefits of napping, including enhanced productivity, improved memory, greater creativity, and enhanced morale.
  • Note that rested workers produce cost savings  for companies, in the form of healthier employees, fewer sick days, and greater productivity in the workplace.  
  • Offer examples of companies that have successfully adopted nap policies.

For further information, contact:

The National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes public understanding of sleep, as well as sleep-related education and research.

The Better Sleep Council, a nonprofit organization supported by the mattress industry that emphasizes the importance of sleep to good health and quality of life.