How much work do you put in a week? If it's 50+ hours per week, you're probably exhausted at the end of each day. A better question may be, how much restful sleep do you normally get so you can recover and be productive the next morning?
Most healthy adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night. Yet, nearly half of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities at least once in the past seven days, according to research from the National Sleep Foundation
That's if you actually show up to work. A study in the journal Sleep found that sleeping fewer than five hours a night is linked to staying home sick for 4.6 to 8.9 more days than people who sleep between seven and eight hours a night.
The New York Times reports that a 2012 study of nearly 400 employees found that sleeping less than six hours each night was one of the best predictors of on-the-job burn-out.
OK, you get the picture. We. Need. Sleep. But who's got the time?
The Other Sleep Technique
If you're a productivity machine or a workaholic (plus kids), and your life is your work or business, you probably reject eight hours and can survive just fine on four or five hours. While a fresh brew of the wakey juice can get you going in the morning, depending on it all day, everyday, to stay alert is actually unhealthy. You need a natural recovery boost to kick you into high gear when you start to crash after lunch time.
That's where the power nap comes in. It can recharge you in as little as 15 minutes during actual work hours. (more on its incredible benefits in a minute)
Unfortunately, corporate America still hasn't caught on to its business benefits and resists the idea.The stereotype goes that unless you work for nap-friendly places like Google, Uber, Zappos, Ben & Jerry's, it ain't gonna happen in your traditional corporate culture, right? I mean, who actually does this in the middle of frantic strategy meetings, deadlines, reports and emails?
Actually plenty of companies do, and the joke's on the rest of us.
Science: It's OK to Nap at Work
Sara Mednick, a sleep researcher and the author of "Take a Nap! Change Your Life," tells The New York Times that daytime napping can have many of the benefits of overnight sleep, including memorization and learning specific bits of information.
The Mayo Clinic says napping offers various benefits for healthy adults, including:
- Reduced fatigue
- Increased alertness
- Improved mood
- Improved performance, including quicker reaction time and better memory
Entrepreneur reports that taking naps before a meeting or a major presentation could make a difference between success or a performance flop. The article cites a NASA study that revealed a nap of just 26 minutes can boost productivity by as much as 34 percent and increase alertness by 54 percent.
Bestselling author and successful entrepreneur Michael Hyatt (the former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers), is a habitual nap taker who swears by it. "Every day after lunch, I lie down on the sofa in my office. I hold my car keys in my right hand and let my hand hang toward the floor. When the car keys fall out of my hand, I know I'm done," recounts Hyatt in his blog.
Length varies according to multiple studies, but your best bet is to aim for around 15 to 20 minutes. Any longer than that and you're likely to wake up with sleep inertia, which will leave you even groggier than before. And the best time? The Mayo Clinic recommends around 2 p.m. This is the time of day when you might experience post-lunch sleepiness or a lower level of alertness.
It's Not "Sleeping on the Job"
Getting back to why there's so much corporate push back, let me close with this perspective to shift our paradigms.
Terry Cralle, a certified sleep expert who encourages companies to implement napping practices, says the problem to overcome falls on management getting past equating naps at work with that old workplace taboo of "sleeping on the job." After all, if co-workers are taking naps at 2:30 p.m. while the rest of us are furiously cranking out those emails and preparing reports for important meetings, surely it must mean they're slacking off (so the assumption goes).
"I'm still surprised that people are put off by napping. We've got great research supporting the fact that naps can help corporations and employees, yet we still feel reluctant to make it an acceptable part of a healthy lifestyle and a healthy workday," Cralle tells Entrepreneur.
Famous ice cream company Ben & Jerry's, which has had an office nap room for over a decade, is one of the earliest adopters of the workplace napping policy.
"It's really important for the company to have happy, healthy employees so we can all do our best," Ben & Jerry's spokesperson Liz Brenna told ABC News.