Do you take naps during the workday? There's plenty of scientific evidence to suggest you should. But very few workplaces welcome the practice. How do you get your boss on board?
"Sleep deprivation will kill you much faster than a cheeseburger," notes Christopher Lindholst, who started the workplace-napping pod company MetroNaps after discovering that brief daytime naps boosted his own productivity. Google, NASA, and Carnegie Mellon University are just a few places where MetroNaps pods are in use today.
Here are his tips for fostering a nap-friendly environment in your own workplace.
1. Suggest a workplace seminar on good sleep habits.
"These are easy one-off seminars that are always appreciated," he says. "People get helpful information about good sleep habits they can immediately start to use."
Even if the subject of daytime napping is never mentioned, it will make people in your workplace, and in management, more aware of the importance and benefits of sleep. "That will get some focus going within the organization about what can be done to help people deal with fatigue and optimize alertness."
2. Present the scientific evidence.
If the leaders of your company believe in data and scientific evidence, you'll have some powerful arguments to support the idea of daytime napping. Lindholst suggests doing this as a follow-up to the sleep seminar, "once the topic is on the table."
A nap increases alertness by 30 percent, Lindholst reports, enhances memory and learning, and, according to a Harvard study, decreases the risk of a cardio-vascular disease in middle-aged men by 37 percent if they take three naps a week. Not only that, researchers at Harvard Medical School estimate that poor productivity due to fatigue from lack of sleep costs American businesses $63 billion a year--productivity that could often be at least partly regained with a brief nap. And, napping can increase productivity. In fact, brain researcher Josh Davis reports that a ten-minute nap is all that's needed to boost brain activity.
3. Provide some peer pressure.
It's pretty tough anymore for an employer to argue with a straight face that napping destroys productivity, since some of the most successful companies in the world encourage naps at work. These include Google, Salesforce.com, Uber, Zappos, and PwC.
4. Try to move toward a performance-based culture.
Or at least, try and get your own boss to evaluate your work on what you accomplish, not how much time you spend sitting at your desk. An organization that measures and values accomplishments rather than mere presence will accept the concept of napping more easily because a) It has a way to measure employee performance beyond just keeping track of how many hours people are at their desks, and b) It has a way of measuring performance and thus seeing how napping makes you more productive.
5. Find an empty space.
If there's an unused room or deserted storage space in your office, propose turning it into a napping or "employee de-stressing" room. That may be easier than trying to change your company's entire culture, and it can provide a venue that makes it easier for people to nap during the day. "People still have hang-ups about being seen sleeping at work, even though napping is good for you and your productivity," Lindholst says. "Therefore you ideally need a sanctuary that individuals can slip off to without feeling observed."
6. When all else fails, nap in your car.
Weather permitting, reclining the driver's seat or slipping into the back seat should give you enough peace and quiet to nap for a few minutes when you need to. "Or try to find a place where you won't be disturbed where you can at least sit on the floor with your back against the wall, as opposed to lying on the floor," Lindholst says. "The truly desperate have been known to nap in a bathroom stall."
Let's hope it doesn't come to that.