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Creating Successful Leaders

napping in the workplace

The evidence is building. Taking a nap in the middle of the day can help you rejuvenate, concentrate, be more productive, and boost your creativity. Furthermore, we need it! According to, “Americans have the longest working hours in the industrial world. Twenty percent of adults say they are so sleepy that it interferes with their daily activities. Eighty five percent of 30-something women report feeling tired on a regular basis.”

On the economic side, tired employees are a drain on the economy. One study found that sleepy employees constitute a $150 billion-a-year drain on American businesses in the form of lost productivity, health care costs, and employee absences.

But will naps really solve our chronic exhaustion? According to several scientific studies, yes!

NASA recently determined that “a 26-minute nap can boost workplace performance by 34 percent.” Also, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies found that “with a nap, brain activity stays high throughout the day; but without a nap, brain activity declines over the course of a day.”

Of course there are alternatives to taking naps. You could load up on sugar or caffeine, but you’ll need to sustain the high level of stimulants in your body in order to keep alert. And they might not even work all that well in the first place. According to WIRED magazine, “sometimes caffeine actually makes you perform worse.”

Although several progressive companies have embraced a “nap culture,” napping is still frowned upon in many traditional workplaces. If that’s the case for you, try bringing to light the benefits of power naps to your co-workers or boss. Ask your superior if s/he would mind if you took a twenty minute nap in the afternoon to power up.

Of course, if you have a private office, you could simply shut the door and catch a few Z’s. Just make sure you’re doing it responsibly and that you don’t oversleep. The typical recommendation is 10-30 minutes, otherwise you’ll wake up groggy (and anything beyond half an hour is frankly overkill).

What if you can’t seem to find a good way to catch a power nap in the workplace? Focus instead on getting a good night’s sleep. Cut the caffeine after noon, invest in light-blocking window shades, and try to get eight hours of undisturbed rest.

Happy napping!

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