What employee wouldn’t kill for an afternoon snooze?
HBR’s Tony Schwartz insists scheduling nap time for workers is a good idea.
And as we pause from writing this post to rub our eyes and stretch, we couldn’t agree more.
Naps, Schwartz says, are physically restorative, and they improve perceptual skills, motor skills, reaction time and alertness.
Sara Mednick, a former Harvard researcher, conducted an experiment. She tested her subjects’ memory, and used naps as variables. The results aren’t surprising: nappers out performed non-nappers and were able to sustain performance all day. Subjects who lacked the extra sleep saw a decrease in performance as the day wore on.
Pilots are allowed to nap on long flights, and for good reason. Just 30 minutes of sleep improves their reaction time by 16 per cent. HBR concludes, “The more hours we work continuously, the greater the toll on our performance.”
Schwartz even suggests the best time of day for a mid-work nap: 1-3 pm, for 30 minutes. A 30 minute power nap won’t interrupt REM sleep, so you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the rest of the day.
The question, of course, is what’s less productive: taking 30 minutes to do absolutely nothing or getting less than stellar performance from employees for a few afternoon hours?
Napping pods have been installed in the Googleplex. Other than that, the idea is snubbed by most companies. It’s common belief that resting means slacking. But Mathew Walker, a sleep researcher at UC Berkeley, insists that a nap “not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness, but at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap.”
Schwartz is so gung-ho about the idea that he suggests employees find way to sneak a little shut-eye. Unless you have your employer’s blessing, we don’t recommend this approach.
But we’re all up for Business Insider testing this theory. We’ll let you know how it goes…once we wake up.
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