A nap a day could keep the doctor (and therapist) away — so why are they so impossible to take at work?
Sleep deprivation is linked to a lot of scary things like Alzheimer’s disease, depression, memory problems, and cancer — and while a nap won’t completely make up for hours of lost sleep, scientists agree a power nap can do wonders.
But while napping may be an effective strategy to counteract negative emotional, cognitive, and physical consequences, the problem with recommending we take naps at work, as psychologist Dr. Ron Friedman previously explained to Business Insider, is that this isn’t entirely practical.
The author of “The Best Place To Work” has long been a proponent for on-the-job napping, but he said that he debated whether or not to recommend this in his book since many struggle with office space constraints and cultural attitudes about napping.
“Particularly in American culture, we like to believe that productivity is a function of effort, and that if we work hard we’ll produce,” he said. “But the reality is that we have a biological need for rest no different or less important than our need for food or water.”
So, is there a way to reconcile our biological need for rest and napping constraints at work? Arianna Huffington believes there is.
“There will always be times when we don’t get enough sleep: we have a sick child, we have a big deadline, we just toss and turn. My advice there is, as soon as you can, get a nap,” “The Sleep Revolution” author tells Business Insider.
“The truth is, I predict in the next few years nap rooms are going to be as universal as conference rooms, because the science now is conclusive about the value of napping. Do you want exhausted employees being exhausted during the day, or do you want them to go have a 20-minute nap and literally have another day ahead of them? Because that’s how restorative a nap is,” she says.
For those who don’t have nap rooms in their office, Huffington suggests gathering your forces and lobbying for a nap room.
Until there is a nap room, she suggests asking an office manager to ensure couches are placed in as private a place as possible. “Then have your kit with your earplugs and your eye mask and you can lie on that couch,” she says.
If there isn’t a couch in a private enough space, (pending manager approval) she suggests bringing a yoga mat to work, finding the most private space in the office, and napping on the mat. “There are ways to make that happen if you believe that it will actually make you more effective, more productive, and happier,” Huffington says.
“Luckily, I think the stigma around napping is very fast being eliminated. I know when we launched our nap rooms at the Huffington Post in 2011, there was an enormous amount of scepticism and eye-rolling, and people were reluctant to be seen in the middle of the afternoon walking into a nap room. But that’s no longer the case — the nap rooms are always full, and I think in fact we need to open a third one,” Huffington says.
Friedman says eliminating the stigma around napping comes down to leaders modelling better attitudes about sleep. Huffington would agree.
“I have a couch in my office, and I have a glass wall, so when I wanted to have a nap — I didn’t want to use the nap room so I wouldn’t take it away from others — I would nap on my couch and close the curtain. Now I no longer close the curtain. And that has helped eliminate the stigma, to show that you can nap publicly, and, actually, it’s a performance-enhancement tool, and it should be celebrated as such,” she says.
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