When you’re at work and that mid-afternoon wall hits, it can take almost everything in your power not to escape under your desk George Costanza-style for some much-needed Zs.
But as we all know, napping on the job is not an option – so we turn to caffeine or a coffee shop cookie to keep us awake until quitting time. It also doesn’t help that admitting to needing extra sleep at any time tends to come with a side of shame and guilt.
Recent studies support this idea, as researchers with the Canadian Sleep Review panel called napping “somewhat stigmatized and viewed as indulgent” after an online survey of more than 1,500 Canadians.
Yet there is also evidence that the times are a-changing when it comes to people’s perception of workplace napping.
There are plenty of benefits to the midday snooze: increased productivity, better concentration, and a lowered risk of heart disease, just to name a few.
In his research on sleep, Dr. Peretz Lavie, President of Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, discovered that humans have natural cycles of wakefulness and drowsiness that occur throughout the day called “ultradian rhythms.” Studies have shown that we perform our best when we tune into those rhythms, rather than work against them.
“Sleep is a behaviour that needs to be respected,” says Dr. Lavie.
If you push yourself to continue working during periods of low energy, you risk continued grogginess and low performance. However, if you acknowledge your body’s natural rhythms and align your periods of work and relaxation with them, you will find it much easier to stay focused and productive on the job.
Today, many employers are beginning to embrace naps. At accounting start-up FreshBooks’ Toronto offices, employees can treat themselves to a quick snooze in the company’s dedicated nap room. San Francisco-based Uber also features similar spaces designed for sleep, and Google’s futuristic-looking nap pods have been one of the company’s many perks for years now.
So is the future of work nap-friendly? The jury’s still out, but one thing’s for sure: if you want to perform at your best, you’re better off getting some extra rest.