All of my friends nap at work, or so I recently found out. One, a paralegal, admitted to crawling under her desk just as George Costanza did on Seinfeld. An EMT confessed to sleeping in the ambulance he was supposed to be cleaning. A pre-K teacher falls asleep on the floor with her students during nap time instead of prepping for the afternoon. And finally, a consultant didn't even attempt to hide her snoozing once and was found with her cheek pressed to the keyboard, gripping a vente frappuccino. Across the country, Americans are battling to keep their eyes open at work. But should they resist?
Every couple of months, it seems, another article appears extolling the benefits of taking short naps. Depending on their length, naps are said to boost productivity, creativity, memory, and problem-solving abilities -- not to mention enhance weight loss, reduce stress, and lower the risk of heart disease. Naps are also said to be more effective than drinking caffeine for stimulating alertness. And yet, sleeping during the workday, for the most part, remains a taboo. Some employers turn a blind eye, but others aren't very forgiving. (The Atlantic Media Company, for example, states in its Employee Handbook that sleeping, along with committing a felony and possessing explosives on company property, is grounds for dismissal.)
Why not recognize what employees are already doing, or desperately trying to avoid doing, and not only allow but encourage short naps during the workday? What company wouldn't want employees who are alert, focused, happy, and healthy?
Some progressive sleep-aware companies, such as Monitor, a consulting firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, provide nap rooms. Other companies, notably Google, offer their employees use of futuristic-looking nap pods. These ergonomic devices -- which are catching on in Europe and in a smattering of U.S. cities -- recline, provide partial privacy, play music, and gently wake you up with vibrations after a predetermined time, leaving you refreshed and ready to work. At $8,000 or more, however, the pods don't come cheap.
If your company can't afford its own pod and won't devote a whole room to midday napping, then perhaps employees could be allowed to equip their cubicles with a nest of sorts. Or if that fails, maybe your office can institute a nap perk on your birthday, as The Office employees did for Kelly Kapoor. At least you would be well-rested one day of the year.