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Health Promotion Specialist

May 11, 2018

Ever thought that sleeping at work could be a good thing?

Have you ever thought about sneaking off for a nap at work? Yes… Well perhaps you should. Studies suggest that a nap can improve alertness, performance and reduce mistakes. Perhaps there is something we can learn from our European neighbours who have mastered the ‘siesta’ (Spanish translation of "nap").

Fatigue is sadly becoming commonplace in the busy lives that we lead – we’re always switched on, emails coming in at all hours, family and career to balance, social media feeds to check and demands on our time and energy from all angles.

An afternoon ‘power’ nap (instead of a double-strength flat white) might be just what you need to recharge your batteries.  

How long should I nap for?

Too much sleep can make you feel as bad as too little sleep! General advice if you are going to take a nap is no more than 30 minutes. That said, as little as 10-20 minutes shut eye may boost focus, productivity, memory and leave you feeling happier.

Sleeping for too long during the day may leave you feeling groggy or disorientated, defeating the purpose of a nap in the first place. Additionally, sleeping too late in the day may impact on the quality of your night-time sleep. Some studies suggest that the perfect time for a nap is between 2-4pm (but you might want to schedule a nap in your own time, like the end of your lunch break).

Tip: Set an alarm so that you don’t risk over sleeping and being late back to work!

Where to nap?

Now here’s the tricky part... It’s not the best look falling asleep at your desk (intentional or not). Some businesses such as Google supply their employees with ‘nap pods’. These so-called pods have been touted to ‘improve mood, creativity and learning’ as well as ‘boosting alertness and productivity’ but come with a hefty price tag.

Back in the real world, a staff-room sofa (or chair if you can nap upright), shady spot in the park or the back seat of your car, might be a more realistic option. If your boss isn’t keen on your napping habits mid-afternoon, perhaps tack 10-minutes of shut eye onto the end of your lunch break.

Napping doesn’t mean you can stay up all night

A daytime nap is not a good substitute for a poor night’s sleep. We know that a good night’s sleep (7-9 hours for most adults) is necessary for the body to replenish and repair itself. Not only does a good night’s sleep make you feel better, look better and have more energy,  but too little sleep can also lead to weight gain and a range of life-threatening illnesses.

If you are finding yourself overtired or falling asleep during the day often, have a look at your sleeping habits and see if there are any changes that you could make to sleep like a baby tonight.

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A power nap might not be for everyone, but if you feel it would benefit your productivity and alertness at work it may be worth scheduling one into your workday (but check with your boss first!).

Image credit: Ingram Publishing

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***Disclaimer: always seek medical advice before starting a new diet, exercise regime or medication. The information in these articles is not a substitute for professional advice from a GP, registered dietitian or other health practitioner.

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