The health and productivity benefits of a power nap at work

The health and productivity benefits of a power nap at work

It’s no secret that sleep deprivation affects performance in the workplace. Do you ever wish you could fit a snooze in at work? What if you could not only take a nap, but boost your productivity and improve your health while doing so?

The benefits of a power nap at work

With employees working harder and sleeping less, napping at work is one solution that offers plenty of benefits.

  1. Improved concentration and memory

    Our brains sort and process information while we sleep, leading to better recall after as little as six minutes of sleep.

  2. A healthier heart

    Studies have found a correlation between napping and decreased blood pressure.

  3. Reduced anxiety and stress

    Even if you don’t fall into a deep sleep, your breathing and heart rate slow, resulting in decreased tension.

How to implement naps in the workplace

The research is convincing, but many workplaces still frown upon catching a bit of shuteye while on the clock. So, how can you convince your boss to let you take a short snooze or your coworkers to join you?

  • Present the benefits of napping.
  • Point to other businesses that have implemented naps at work and focus on their reported outcomes.
  • Ask for a trial period say one week, and summarize any benefits you notice.

Logistics of how to nap at the office

Once you have the go ahead, it’s time to figure out some details.

  • Duration – Sleeping the afternoon away might sound like a good idea, but chances are, you won’t sleep well that night, and it isn’t best for productivity. A power nap lasting no more than twenty minutes is ideal. Sleep for more than thirty minutes and you risk entering a deeper sleep stage, making it harder to wake up and causing sluggishness when you do. If you find yourself in need of a longer nap and can spare the time, aim for ninety minutes -– the length of a full sleep cycle.
  • Time of day – Individual circadian rhythms differ, but generally speaking, napping between one and three o’clock in the afternoon is best. Any earlier, and you may not be sleepy enough to nap; any later, and you risk difficulty sleeping at night.
  • Location – Create a nap space with conditions conducive to bringing on sleep. Is there an underused room in your office or a space that could be cordoned off? Think creatively. Providing the opportunity for employees to nap at their workstations is another viable option.
  • Participation – Not everyone wants or needs a nap. Employees who choose not to nap may benefit from meditation, a break, or may choose to just keep working.

Tips for setting up a nap space at work

Here are some ways to implement naps in the office.

  1. Consider a communal nap room vs. individual workstations

    A communal nap room has the benefit of being a controlled, identifiable space employees recognize as a napping zone. It also gives employees a break from their workstation and may be easier to set up and maintain.

    On the other hand, napping at individual workstations allows employees more freedom to customize the environment, but it may not be as comfortable or private. In addition, the function of the space can become ambiguous. If you have a coworker who chooses not to nap, how do you catch some shuteye while she is buckling down?

    So which option is better? It really depends upon the needs of the company and its employees. Ask questions and discuss with staff and management to determine what will work best for all.

  2. Provide the conditions for sleep

    Whether your office will use one common room for napping, or allow employees to nap at their workstations, some key conditions should be met to provide the best environment for sleep.

    • Lighting – The room should be dim, but not pitch black, which could present a safety issue.
    • Noise – Too much noise can impede the ability to fall asleep. Preferably, the room should be kept quiet. If it’s not possible to eliminate distracting sounds, use white noise or provide ear plugs.
    • Temperature – A slightly cooler room is best for drifting off. This can be a challenge in a shared room, but the use of blankets can help make the room comfortable for everyone.
  3. Consider helpful items for sleep

    All you really need for a restorative nap is a relatively quiet place and sufficient time to drift off. To make the most of nap time at work, though, consider using any or all of the following:

    • Timers – Whether you set an alarm on your smartphone or use a standalone timer, it’s important not to overstay your time in dreamland. This can lead to grogginess, which definitely doesn’t help productivity.
    • Blankets – Body temperature drops while we sleep, so using a blanket to keep warm and cozy helps ensure better sleep and a less jarring wake time.
    • Pillows – Nobody wants to wake up with a stiff neck. A travel pillow supports your neck and ensures you’ll wake refreshed and ready to get back to work.
    • Furniture – Napping at your desk can be tricky if your chair is uncomfortable. Consider investing in a good quality chair, not just for napping, but for posture and back health as well!
    • Coffee – Yes, you read that right. A coffee nap is ideal for the office, provided you consume the caffeine no later than 2 pm. Enjoy a cup of coffee (or a tea or soda for that matter) before settling in for snooze. The caffeine will take about twenty minutes to enter your bloodstream and take effect, just in time for you to wake up and get back to work. Think of it as a double productivity whammy!