In a competitive, fast-paced workplace environment, taking a nap in your office could be a risky proposition. Literally sleeping on the job could be a career-breaker—or at the least could cause more than a few sideways glances in your direction.
But at the offices of Nationwide Planning in Paramus, N.J., not only is it OK to take nap when you need one—it’s encouraged.
“A happy employee is a more productive employee,” says Mike Karalewich, CEO of Nationwide Planning, a financial advisory firm.
A nap is an effective means of combating sleep deprivation and counters the effects of work overload, job burnout and workplace stress.
The company opened its “Rejuvenation Center” in 2012 to give its staff the option of taking a quick snooze. Ever since, Karalewich says employee morale and productivity have experienced an encouraging boost.
“The first thing we noticed is reduced employee turnover, which can sink the firm’s productivity,” says Karalewich, who adds that employee turnover since 2012 “has essentially been non-existent.”
The company’s profitability has also experienced a significant increase since 2012, says Karalewich, who doesn’t directly attribute this to the Rejuvenation Center.
Which begs the question: Should napping be allowed in every office?
“A nap is an effective means of combating sleep deprivation and counters the effects of work overload, job burnout and workplace stress,” says Terry Cralle, a clinical sleep specialist and the national spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council.
“Naps can boost alertness and performance to a significant degree,” adds Cralle.
If You Snooze, You Don’t Lose
Recent research has shown that more people in the workplace may need the added sleep.
Recent research has shown that more people in the workplace may need the added sleep. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control called sleep deprivation a public health epidemic. The best amount of sleep for adults is around seven to eight hours, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.
Employees who sleep fewer than six hours a day are more likely to be overweight, suffer from hypertension and depression, and find it difficult to focus on work or complete tasks.
Napping is a good way to remedy these problems, says Cralle. “Shorter naps should be the first option to mitigate sleepiness when vigilance, full attention and focus are required.”
It can also help workers be better equipped to tolerate and overcome frustration on the job.
Napping As a Company Perk
Many companies have an existing napping policy in place.
Hubspot, a marketing-software company, has a hammock for employees who need a brief nap. Mike Volpe, the company’s CMO, told Entrepreneur that a nap helps him prepare for things that are “particularly draining” for him, like a presentation.
Cisco Systems, NerdWallet, Nike and Hootsuite also have their own nap rooms.
NASA lets its employees take power naps during the day (better known as a “NASA nap”). NASA found that a 26-minute nap boosted performance by 34 percent and alertness by 54 percent.
Karalewich instituted a 20-minute limit for his employees “to prevent abuse.”
It is imperative that employers support sleep health and wellness.
“The scheduled sessions are fixed throughout the year to maintain order, and take place between 12:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.,” he adds.
How to nap can be hard, though. Rebecca Greenfield of Bloomberg Business tried napping in her office, finding the experience stressful and uncomfortable. (She did so in an office that did not have a designated nap room.)
Tech startup AskforTask.com started a napping program for its web developers, but found that the whole process would waste 30 minutes of productivity. It also hit only 55 percent of its weekly goals, BBC.com reported.
In Cralle’s mind, naps will do companies more good than harm in the long run.
“I think it’s time for employers to realize napping on the job can be highly beneficial to their employees and to their business,” says Cralle.
“It is imperative that employers support sleep health and wellness.”