E-pinions

Don’t Call After Lunch—I’m Napping

By Stephen D. Bruce, PHR
Editor, HR Daily Advisor

A number of studies are now suggesting the somewhat counterintuitive idea that napping after lunch is a great productivity booster. Should your company be considering naptime?

MedicalNewsToday.com says that “dozens of small medical studies have shown that napping for about 30 minutes to an hour in the early afternoon increases a person’s productivity, alertness and sometimes even their mood.

“Still, unsanctioned napping —or to put it more precisely, ‘drowsiness’ —on the job actually costs U.S. businesses $18 billion a year in lost productivity, according to a recent report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.”

Medical researcher Sara C. Mednick (author of “Take a Nap! Change Your Life”)  says that “… without a midday rest, we are not able to perform at optimal levels throughout the day. In fact, our performance falls apart. Napping maintains and even boosts our skills.”


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Napping Tips

Here are some of Mednick’s tips and tidbits on making the most of your nap times, as reported by ABC News:

  • Prime nap time is 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. That minidip in energy you experience is biological, not because you just ate lunch, Mednick says.
  • Sleep has three stages:
  • Stage 2 Sleep. Within 20 minutes, you experience “Stage 2” sleep, which increases alertness and motor skills.
  • Slow Wave Sleep. Within 40 minutes, you’ll experience slow wave sleep, which increases memory.
  • REM Sleep. This is deep sleep you’ll get if you nap for up to 90 minutes, and it increases creativity.
  • Low light and low noise will help you fall asleep faster.
  • Studies show that naps up to 90 minutes won’t interfere with your sleep at night, so don’t sleep too long. And don’t nap within three hours of bedtime.

F. John Reh, of About.com, says “One of the reasons for the changing attitudes towards ‘sleeping at work’ (as opposed to ‘sleeping on the job’) is the growing recognition of the cost to business of sleep deficiency among employees. These costs include:

  • increased errors and accidents
  • increased absenteeism
  • increased drug use
  • increased turnover
  • higher group insurance premiums
  • decreased productivity

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What’s your company’s take? Does your company have an official stance for or against napping on the job?

And how about you? Do you personally ever take a quick nap at work? How often? How long?

Let me know, at sbruce@blr.com and I’ll report in a future issue. Or feel free to call, but not after lunch—I’ll be napping.

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