You might be familiar with this feeling: headaches and haziness, the weariness of your body, the lack of concentration, all in the middle of the day's work. There's a bunch of emails waiting for your replies, you still have some content waiting to be published, but no matter how many times you sip on your coffee, you still won't get the same energy back.
No, this is not a syndrome; this is you, feeling sleepy, as your body demands a few moments of snoozing to bring it back to its working condition. With productivity and health at stake, there's no reason why you shouldn't give in. The National Sleep Foundation has revealed that insufficient sleep affects a person's daily activity and in return, hurting their company's revenues. Sleep.org reveals the numbers: 29% of workers report falling asleep at work, and the lack of sleep costs the US $63 billion dollars lost in employee productivity.
One way to avoid sleep-related health problems is to get a proper amount of slumber every night – about seven to nine hours, expert says. Another alternative, however, is to take a nap during the day. Yes, in the middle of work.
Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, is an advocate of this cause. Her company Thrive Global aims to combat sleep deprivation in today's fast-paced culture. She has doubled down on the cause of dozing; her books Thrive and The Sleep Revolution tackles the science behind getting a perfect Zzz, thanks to the help of a relaxing environment, and of course, the right bed.
“Studies have shown that naps boost our immune system, lower our blood pressure, increase our ability to learn, improve our memory and performance of complex tasks,” Arianna discloses. “What workplace wouldn’t want a free way to do all that? Plus, nap rooms and nap pods are also a signal to employees that this is a workplace that prioritizes well-being instead of burnout.”
Sleeping Room at Soundcloud - Designed by KINZO. Photography by Werner Huthmacher.
Why nap at work?
One benefit of sleep is that it reduces the production of cortisol, a stress-inducing hormone. The rewards are many: it minimizes feelings of anxiety and depression at work, recharges one’s energy, provides better focus and, overall, boosts one’s productivity. It is the body's natural mechanism that helps us deal with the events of the day, helping us feel refreshed and ready to begin again.
Companies are beginning to see the positive side of sleep, and Arianna sees nap rooms to be as essential as conference rooms in the coming two years. Large businesses have started to capitalize on this trend; Uber's San Francisco headquarters now include nap rooms designed by Studio O + A. Google's Mountain View, California HQ had nap pods paired with a coffee bar manned by a barista. Shoe selling giant Zappos has EnergyPods made available 24/7, especially for their staff who work on overnight shifts.
Work naps have become a worldwide trend that even Japan, one of the world's most workaholic countries, promote this. According to a 2014 Japan Times post, companies are now accepting these breaks into their policies, and it is for a good reason. Short naps allow workers to get better attention and performance at work during afternoon dips. To aid the sleepy employee, cafes and shops near large companies offer discount to nappers, including lunch and a reclining chair. Company rooms offer gender-separated rooms equipped with blankets and pillows, while other companies allow their staff to snooze at their workstations.
Sleep completes the wellness puzzle
Brigham & Women's Hospital sleep medicine programme director Lawrence Epstein revealed that sleep wellness was the one thing missing from most health programs, until of the recent. “More and more, we're seeing how sleep disorders affect work productivity, healthcare costs, and workplace accidents,” said Epstein in a Financial Times post. For one, the cost of insomnia, Epstein revealed was estimated to be over $100 billion when one adds in other outcomes, including absenteeism and reduced productivity.
Sleep disorders are becoming prevalent. One factor: our newfound attachment to smart devices and the increasing need to be constantly connected. Some jobs are crucial to life, such as firemen and pilots, but other types of work are also critical, such as working in finance or law. When one is not well-rested, they tend to make bad decisions, ultimately leading to arguments, failures or loss of jobs.
According to Vitality Health / Rand Europe, 29.6% of employees sleep less than 7 hours per night. This results to the loss of 4.7% of productive days annually. Fortunately, as of the recent, corporate programmes that monitor sleep disorders were able to reduce healthcare costs and workplace accidents. In a study done by the Union Pacific Railroad Employees Health System, such programme can save the organization $5 million over two years.
Coffee and office naps
Sleep doesn’t have to be complex. One way to conquer daytime drowsiness is what is now called Coffee Nap. This brief period of sleep, taken around 15 to 20 minutes, is followed by consuming coffee, tea, or other caffeinated drink. British researchers Horne and Reyner discovered this combination as an effective way to trigger alertness and improve cognitive functions. In an experiment, Horne and Reyner observed the effects of various atmospheric situations and coffee intake on sleep-deprived individuals. According to them, a nap with caffeine has greatly reduced sleepiness and even driving accidents by ridding of the body's adenosine. The secret? Caffeine takes about half-an-hour to get a full effect, hence, a short nap will help you be more productive during the wait.
The policies of sleeping at work
Early adopter companies have revealed that nap rooms are significant in championing space, wellness and support for their employees. Work culture, other than focusing on productivity, should understand the value of sleep. It has become less of a taboo, more of a crucial part of a daily routine; reinforcing priceless ROIs, such as better performance, improved staff relationships, employee retention and even greater talent acquisition.
While workplaces are now being lenient with their staff getting good sleep, certain policies keep things check. After all, these nap rooms are made for short breaks, not for six-hour slumbers. How can companies make sure that these facilities are not abused? Here are some rules for using a nap room.
- Use your 20-30 minute of solitude, but don't go too far. Oversleeping will make you feel groggy at work.
- Keep the space clean and tidy. A single nap pod can cost up to $13,000; this investment will be used by your other co-workers, so make sure you don't leave your sleep mask behind or mess up the sheets.
- Sleep quietly. If you like listening to music to sleep, make sure it's not distracting the rest of your officemates.
Some businesses allow limited use of nap rooms per person. Logging-in helps in monitoring employee efficiency. This way, companies can find balance between their workforce’s productivity and wellness while hitting goals.
The next time you feel sleepy, don’t be afraid to succumb to it. A few minutes of napping will give you (and your company) greater rewards. So, grab that pillow and take a snooze; you will wake up focused, refreshed, ready to take on the workplace with a stronger comeback.