If you’re all too familiar with the mid-afternoon sleepiness that can hit even the best of us on some workdays, you might appreciate the surprising trend popping up at some of the nation’s biggest companies: napping at work.
We’re not talking about illicitly dozing off at your desk – the sort of thing you might expect from your slacker coworker. This is about officially condoned, productivity-enhancing naps, and it’s being encouraged by major industry players like Nike, Google, and even the accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“We look out for our employees’ quality of life, and providing space and time for naps is just another way for us to take care of the people who work there,” says a representative at Ben & Jerry’s (yes, the ice cream people), which gives employees access to a room with a bed and pillows. “If people need to catch a little snooze during the day to do the best possible job they can do, we’re behind it,” says the representative.
Zappos, too, has a nap room at their headquarters, furnished with a couch, recliners, and a beanbag chair. “It was born from our focus on employee happiness and wellness,” says a representative. “We know how much sleep impacts well-being.”
Google, one of the first large tech companies to embrace napping, has nap pods scattered around its campus – futuristic-looking capsules with lounge chairs that play relaxing sounds that employees can catch some shut eye when they need it.
There’s now even something called a nap desk available, which looks like a normal workstation but has a lower panel that doubles as a cot.
So what’s behind this sudden push for mid-day sleep? Studies show that napping at work can actually increase your productivity, lower mistakes, help you regain concentration, and improve your memory. One study found that people who took an hour-long nap tolerated frustrating tasks better than those who didn’t. Another study, published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, found that nurses and physicians who napped for an average of 25 minutes showed fewer performance lapses, more energy, less fatigue, and less sleepiness.
In fact, NASA has become so convinced that naps benefit task performance on missions that it’s instituted a nap culture for its employees on the ground too.
To be clear, not all naps have equal benefit. Experts recommend “power naps” – naps of less than 30 minutes, taken roughly halfway in between waking up and going to bed for the night.
So – can you see napping coming to your office anytime soon? Is it already there? Tell us in the comments.