I’ve just come back from San Sebastian in Spain where the locals enjoy a siesta before 2.00pm-5.00pm. During this time, shops close down, and employees can enjoy a long lunch or have a healthy afternoon nap. Sound good?
We’ve all experienced times when we’ve felt tired at work. For me, it’s usually post-lunch especially if I’ve just eaten a lot of carbs.
At these times, I’ve often thought it would be great if I worked at Google and could nip downstairs into one of their sleeping pods for 10 minutes. But as I don’t work at Google or live in Spain, I’d probably get fired for sleeping on the job.
According to a survey from the Society for Human Resource Management, around 6% of US organisations including The Huffington Post, Nike and Pizza Hut provide nap rooms for employees.
But should more organisations actually encourage employees to nap at work? Let’s look at the case for having naps at work.
Do Naps at Work Increase Productivity?
Encouraging employees to nap during the day might seem counterproductive but it could actually help boost performance and productivity.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a nap of up to 30 minutes can help “restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents”. However, another study found participants ended up being sleepier during the day after taking daytime naps.
Napping helps you regain concentration and boosts your productivity. There are also health benefits as napping can reduce anxiety and depression by minimising your levels of cortisol (a hormone that elevates your blood sugar).
The length of time you nap for is important. A nap of more than 30 minutes can cause sleep inertia and leave you feeling groggy as your body starts to enter a deep sleep.
Benefits of Naps at Work
- Naps can boost memory and information retention five-fold.
- They can reduce stress and anxiety.
- They can improve cognitive function and creativity.
- They can reverse the productivity-destroying effects of a poor night’s rest.
- They beat caffeine for improving performance.
Napping Improves Work Memory
A study by NASA found that napping improves work memory.
Working memory involves focusing attention on one task while holding other tasks in memory. This is a fundamental ability critical to performing complex work like piloting a spaceship.
MetroNaps’ CEO, Christopher Lindholst, thinks that naps are no longer a company perk but an essential element to any workplace.
“Encouraging employees to nap during the day might seem counterproductive but could actually help boost performance and productivity”.
Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
Companies are seeing a strong correlation between employee health and the health of the company. Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for your health and work performance.
According to the Journal of Sleep, lack of sleep costs US companies a staggering $63 billion in lost productivity each year.
A nap in the afternoon can give you a boost, but sleeping well at night is your best bet for maintaining energy throughout the day and for having the mental sharpness to do your job well.
Get occasional productivity tips and Tameday news direct to your inbox
Sleep plays a key role in your health. One study linked insufficient sleep to an increased obesity risk of 89% in children and 55% in adults.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 3 adults in the US don’t get the recommended amount of sleep.
This USC study confirms that being well-rested not only leads to better health and receptivity to learning — people who get the rest they need are happier and more satisfied overall.
Here are some tips to help improve the quality of your sleep and help you nod off quicker.
- Stop watching TV and turn off any bright lights two hours before heading to bed.
- No caffeine late in the day.
- Try to sleep and wake at consistent times.
- Avoid alcohol before bed as it can reduce night-time melatonin production and lead to disrupted sleep patterns.
- Avoid late-night eating.
- A warm bath, shower or foot bath before bed can help you relax and improve your sleep quality.
- Try not to drink any fluids 1–2 hours before going to bed.
Short power naps can improve brain function and be beneficial, but long or irregular napping can negatively affect your sleep. Taking a nap can improve your mood which will positively affect your attitude towards others including colleagues and customers.
At Tameday, we’re all about working smarter—not harder or longer. If that means you need 10 minutes to recharge the batteries after lunch then maybe more organisations should be listening to the sleep scientists and providing nap rooms for employees.
Until it becomes mainstream, I’ll have to stick to my 3.00pm cappuccino to get me through the afternoon slump!