Taking a quick nap at work. It seems like a major professional faux pas, right? However, that old taboo might actually be a thing of the past.
According to Christopher Lindholst, CEO of Restworks -- a company that provides workplace rest and napping installations for corporations, hospitals, and universities -- napping at work could actually be key to helping employees reach their full potential.
As a matter of fact, according to a poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 29% of respondents admitted to falling asleep or becoming very sleepy while on the job. Even further, it's reported that sleep deprivation costs American companies up to $63.2 billion per year in lost productivity.
So, it's no wonder that some big, well-known companies -- think Google, NASA, and Zappos -- are implementing these mid-day snoozes to help give their team members a boost. And, they aren't just expecting employees to slouch in their own desk chairs.
No, brief naps have become a key part of their company cultures, meaning they give their teams the appropriate spaces and atmospheres (from comfy chairs to dedicated nap rooms) to catch a few z's when they feel the need to recharge at work.
But, is this napping phenomenon really all it's cracked up to be?
Won't Employees Just Sleep All Day?
"When people first encounter the idea of napping at work, we often find they initially think that employees are going to sleep all day once you introduce the concept," says Lindholst, "But, that's not what happens at all."
Lindholst compares the napping concept to installing a fitness center at your office. Just because you've opened the on-site gym doesn't mean employees will abandon their desks and spend all day on the elliptical.
"They understand that this type of policy and facility is something to be thankful for and respected," he adds, "We provide guidance to our employers about this, but our installations are also designed to help users understand that the most efficient benefit they can get is from short, 15-20 minute naps."
The Science of Napping
Here's another criticism of workplace dozing that often crops up: Won't these afternoon power naps just cause employees to feel groggy and unmotivated?
It's an understandable question, but Lindholst asserts that it's not an issue.
"The science of napping is the same as that of sleep," he explains, "Essentially, your brain goes through various levels of activity -- called stages -- as you relax."
When you take a nap, you only touch on the lighter stages of sleep, which makes it much easier to wake up and resume activity. And, while many people assume that our minds simply shut down when we're sleeping, that isn't necessarily true either. Our brains remain very active at various stages of sleep.
""These short segments of sleep are actually restorative," Lindholst adds, "Naps have been well documented to improve alertness by 30%, and regular napping has health benefits including reducing risk of cardiovascular disease by 37%."
Are Naps the Future of Work?
It seems odd to think that sleeping on the job could become a widely accepted part of the workday, but it appears as if that's the direction we're heading in.
Of course, not all companies will institute a napping policy to help employees power through those mid-afternoon slumps. But, for those who do choose to offer this perk, it's somewhat easy to see why.
"Sleeping on the job is one of the best things you can do to boost your professional performance," concludes Lindholst, "A short, 15-20 minute nap boosts your cognitive abilities supporting productivity, improves your mood, and has long-term health benefits."
Well, in that case, go ahead and pass me a pillow.