Napping on the Job

Lisa Orr, BA, RPSGT

Industry Takes Note of Sleep's Benefits

Many companies are now establishing nap rooms and slumber chambers for their employees so that they can take a snooze during their breaks. The concept began in Japan where companies would set up tents and provide sleep masks and ear plugs so that their workers could take naps. This concept is now just reaching Canada and some companies have spent as much as $50,000 USD to set up elaborate nap rooms. Some nap rooms include comfy recliners, blackout curtains and white-noise generators and one even displays an actual running waterfall!

Napping on the job
Dr. Bill Anthony says, in his book The Art of Napping, that society has become a 24-hour/late evening culture. As a result, people are getting less sleep and becoming fatigued more easily. Dr. Anthony conducted a survey of hundreds of employees and found that although they knew it was against the rules to sleep on the job and that they could be fired for it, most people would do it anyway. He found that the most typical resting places at work were in a closed office or a common lounge. Other people would go out to their cars in the parking lot or take a drive and park somewhere else to take a nap. The most surprising locale he found was the bathroom stall. He describes one woman who said she would rest with her head on the toilet paper roll.

Although napping is more of a band-aid solution, it is not that bad if it is not used to replace long term sleep obtained at night. Napping is not suggested for everyone since it can steal sleep from night-time sleep. When napping, it is best to either get up after 30 minutes or sleep through a full sleep cycle which is an hour and a half long. If you wake up in between those times, you will usually be more groggy and grumpy than before the nap.

Although one may not think so, there are indeed benefits to the employer who allows napping on the job. First of all, it demonstrates that they care about their employees' well being. Secondly, they will get better rested employees, and finally, employers who allow this, can end up saving money due to employees’ fatigue related mistakes. One California company was said to have decreased its expenditures on coffee and soft drinks by 30% since it introduced its nap room.

It is suggested that companies deciding to go along with this latest trend have nap policies put in place. Several companies have hired sleep and productivity consultants to organize the nap schedules. They do this so that they can avoid random napping which means falling asleep at your station. This can be dangerous and costly. Instead, controlled napping procedures are established. These are rules such as allowing only 20 minutes for naps and only one nap per shift.

Finally, this latest concept has led to the production of nap time merchandise such as neck pillows, ear plugs, eye masks and slipper socks. Pillows being sold for the on-the-job naps are small enough to conceal under a desk.