You’ve likely heard it said that “everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten.” Well, that includes the benefits of taking a nap in the middle of the day, which has been shown to improve attitudes and enhance the ability to learn and manage tasks. Young children and elderly persons tend to nap, and napping is an important aspect of many cultures. However, as a nation, the United States appears to be becoming more and more sleep deprived. General reluctance to take naps may be attributed to a busy lifestyle and the demands of the North American workplace, or to the idea that napping will interfere with our nighttime sleep, or the stigma that napping equals laziness and results in poor productivity.
The National Sleep Foundation is an advocate of daily naps, and though they admit that napping isn’t for everyone, they list the following benefits and tips:
Naps can restore alertness, enhance performance, and reduce mistakes and accidents.
Naps can increase alertness in the period directly following the nap and may extend alertness a few hours later in the day.
A short nap is usually recommended (20 – 30 minutes) for short-term alertness. This type of nap provides significant benefit for improved alertness and performance without leaving you feeling groggy or interfering with nighttime sleep.
Try to schedule regular nap times around when you naturally feel sleepy. If you take a nap too late in the day, it might affect your nighttime sleep patterns and make it difficult to fall asleep at your regular bedtime. If you try to take it too early in the day your body may not be ready for more sleep and thus the attempt to do so will seem like wasted time.
Scheduled napping is not only of benefit to those with consistent sleep patterns, it has even been prescribed for those who are affected by narcolepsy.
Napping also has psychological benefits. A nap can be a pleasant luxury, like a mini-vacation, and it can provide an easy way to get some relaxation and rejuvenation.
Your sleep environment can greatly impact your ability to fall asleep. Make sure that you have a restful place to lie down, that room temperature is comfortable, and minimize the amount of noise and filtered light.
So what about the idea of taking a nap at work? Yes to that! Naps are no longer just something employees must steal during lunch break or hide from colleagues who might make jokes or tell the boss…workplace napping is becoming a popular work benefit. More and more companies are joining the “napping revolution.” Among other perks, such as free fresh-brewed coffee, quality cafeteria food, indoor and outdoor exercise spaces, and massage rooms, some employers are including a “nap room,” or other such designated areas for relaxation and rejuvenation.
Among other big names the following businesses have already joined this workplace revolution: Google, The Huffington Post, Time Warner, Nationwide Planning Associates, Proctor & Gamble, Mimecast, Ben & Jerry’s, Zappos, Nike, Pizza Hut, AOL, and MetroNaps. That’s only a sample of the companies who’ve been “setting the snooze alarm” on the job. These revolutionaries would all agree with Craig Yarde, founder of Yarde Metals, a Southington, Connecticut-based, company specializing in sales of metal products, when he says, “Allowing employees a quick nap at work is good for the bottom line.”
But beyond the bottom line, getting adequate sleep throughout a 24-hour period helps minimize mistakes and reduces the chance of fatigue-related accidents that can lead to injuries and death. This is particularly vital for companies in the industrial sectors where employees work with heavy duty equipment, power tools, and other machinery, such as construction sites and manufacturing facilities, and it is also important for emergency responders. Long work hours, coupled with the high physical and emotional strain associated with emergency response and recovery operations, can prevent responders from getting enough sleep, putting everyone involved in the situation at risk.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) offers a web-based training program, “Interim NIOSH Training for Emergency Responders: Reducing Risks Associated with Long Work Hours,” that provides strategies to reduce the health and safety risks that are linked to working long hours during the daytime. The training is designed to increase knowledge and promote better personal behaviors and workplace systems that will reduce the risks associated with working long hours. Getting enough sleep in emergency situations can be accomplished, but it often requires a coordinated effort between responders and their managers.
Perhaps one day napping will be a federal health and safety requirement. For now it’s up to individual owners and operators to make the call as to how they want to join the napping revolution, whether they intentionally include nap opportunities and spaces on the job site or at least provide training for employees to help them better understand the need for adequate sleep.
STP has recently updated its publication Federal Regulatory Training Requirements Compliance Guide and also publishes the following related guides: