For more than a decade now, research has proven the benefits of napping on the job. Yet another study out this summer from the University of Michigan found that participants who took an hour-long nap weathered frustrating tasks better than those who didn’t. Science knows that the midday snooze produces all kinds of benefits, including improved memory, increased alertness, and decreased mistakes. There’s also some evidence that naps help with creativity and problem solving. At the other end of things, researchers have found that workers lose 11.3 days of work because of sleep deprivation.
As a result of these findings, countless articles over the years have implored tired desk workers to take a sleep break—all in the name of increased productivity. But who really does that? Not me. To see what all the hype is about naps, I tested a napping regime over a four-day period at work, devoting 20 minutes each afternoon to sleep on the job.
Despite a growing philosophical acceptance of napping and the increase in nap rooms at offices, getting some shut eye at work doesn’t make much practical sense. Most work days don’t, like kindergarten class, have a built-in nap time. The office can’t and doesn’t stop for your sleep break.
There’s the question of where to sleep, especially if there’s no nap room. Only 6 percent of companies surveyed by the National Sleep Foundation in 2011 had designated nap rooms. “That’s the crux of the problem,” says Christopher Lindholst, founder and chief executive of MetroNaps, which manufactures sleep pods. “Where do you actually go if there is no place in your workspace to take naps? You could lie under your desk, but mostly people don’t want to be seen sleeping on the floor.” And what about post-nap grogginess? How do you wake up without pillow hair or lines on your face? Won’t your co-workers make fun of you?
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