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To Nap, or Not to Nap?

To Nap, or Not to Nap?

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What was once considered a taboo subject- ‘sleeping on the job’, is now regarded as smart business by many firms around the world. Companies that have a strong focus on employee wellness are now encouraging their workers to have an on-site nap in order to boost productivity levels. 

But what are the perks? And what’s the most efficient way to get a short burst of shut-eye? We consider the many benefits and the science behind power napping at work.

What is a power nap?

A power nap is considered to be a short period of sleep, around 10-20 minutes for most people, that stops before the occurrence of slow-wave sleep (SWS) or deep sleep is able to take effect. A power nap is intended to provide the recharging benefits of sleep, but in the least amount of time possible.

A nap should not be taken any later than 4pm, so it won’t disturb the night time sleep pattern, and must not surpass 30 minutes, otherwise, the person runs the risk of developing ‘sleep inertia’, also known as that unpleasant, groggy feeling that can last for quite some time after the person has woken up.

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The science behind it

Unlike 85% of all mammals, humans sleep just once a day. And whilst scientists aren’t sure whether it’s modern society that has got us into this pattern, or the fact that we’re a monophasic species instead of a polyphasic one when it comes to sleep, one thing is certain: we’re not getting enough of it. A recent study of 13 countries, including America, Canada, Ireland and France, has revealed that Britain is the most sleep-deprived country, with over 1 in 3 people not getting enough sleep.

Nasa looked at the advantageous effects of napping by observing 747 pilots and their sleeping patterns. Participants in one group were allowed to nap once during the day, sleeping on average for around 28.5 minutes, and through this, “they demonstrated vigilance performance improvements from 16% in median reaction time to 34% in lapses compared to the group that didn’t rest”.

A lack of sleep robs the brain of its essential rest and recovery period, affecting cognitive function, sensory processes, and a person’s emotions. A short nap has been proven to help reverse the damage of sleep deprivation and regulate the hormonal impact of a bad night’s sleep.

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The how and where

If your office doesn’t have a designated nap area, then you’re going to have to be creative. Make sure to find a room that’s quiet, safe, and where you won’t be disturbed. Finding a space that’s private will help you to relax and dose off easier.

To get comfortable, it may be an idea to bring a pillow or small blanket with you. Napping is all about efficiency, so to increase your chances of falling asleep and to try to get the most out of your chosen nap time, it’s important you can get comfortable quickly.

A good time to have a nap is in the afternoon, at lunchtime. Your lunch hour is an ideal time to settle down for a snooze, particularly if you’ve just eaten, as it will induce drowsiness and fatigue as your food digests. Be sure to set your alarm so you don’t end up oversleeping – you don’t want to wake up hours later to find the everyone has gone home and the office is locked!

What are your thoughts on napping at work? Let us know on Twitter @viking_chat.

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