Powernaps: The Why and How of Sleeping on the Job

I’m an expert napper. I come from a long-line of experienced nappers, including my mom who probably found it a necessity with five children under nine years old. She eloquently called it “resting my eyes.” My husband has even learned the art and taken to it like a champ (though not at work, yet).

This talent used to be something to be kept undercover (See what I did there?) because nappers were considered slackers. But early in my career with a job that required much after 5:00 work with volunteers and hosting civic/social events, naps provided me with the energy to keep going and give my best during extra-long work days.  Occasional napping at work is a habit that has stuck and I’m more productive because of it.

Who’s Tired?

A poll taken in 2011 by National Sleep Foundation found that 43% of people don’t get enough sleep.  Tired people are clearly less effective people. Tired people who can’t or won’t nap usually resort to sugar or caffeine to keep going and neither are good choices. They provide a quick burst of energy, but also the inevitable plummet. And in a double whammy, the extra sugar also helps pack on pounds which saps energy.

Thankfully, more and more companies are understanding that rested employees are productive employees and are making accommodations for nappers.  The Huffington Post has two (perhaps three by now) nap rooms for employees.  Nationwide Planning Associates’ New Jersey office has a nap room with a recliner where one employee at a time can grab a catnap.

Effective Napping on the Job

If you want to try napping at work in an office environment, you’ll need to make certain management is on board, so when your phone goes to voice mail and you’re found snoozing, you don’t have HR adding this performance tidbit to your permanent record.

A tiny room with a door and a recliner is all you need. If there is no extra room available and you have your own an office with a door, that will do.  Maybe you have a mod sofa in your office like Don Draper, or, you can lie on the floor. (If lying where untold numbers of feet have trod creeps you out, lie on a yoga mat– which you can roll up and leave behind your door.)  In any case you need to lie on your back, because side-sleeping tends to lengthen sleeping time. You can also scrunch down in your chair and use a guest chair to prop up your feet.

If you work from home you can also try the floor or perhaps the couch but don’t get too comfortable.

No blankets and again, no side-sleeping. Conditions for napping at work are not as cozy as bedtime sleeping conditions. If you’re tired enough to need a nap, you’ll fall asleep.

How Long to Nap

You’ll likely automatically wake up after 20-25 minutes and that’s your cue to get up, stretch and get back to work.  Going back to sleep after that initial waking will just leave you feeling groggy and disoriented from too long a nap.

You’ll be amazed at the extra mental energy you’ll bring to your afternoon efforts. You probably won’t need a nap every day, but on the occasions that you do, taking one will make a world of difference in your productivity.

Trust me on this.  I’m an expert.

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