Imagine that you caught one of your co-workers sleeping on the job. Naturally, if it kept on happening, you’d expect their days at the company to be numbered. But times have changed and boosting your productivity at work with a power nap is happening more commonly than you’d think.
Furthermore, introducing this mode of working is being taken on by big companies who see power napping as an opportunity to revolutionize the performance of their teams.
According to leading sleep scientist Matthew Walker—professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California—telling co-workers you are less-than-rested is a common tactic to avoid being given a label of ‘lazy’.
“We want to seem busy,
and one way we express that is by proclaiming how little sleep we’re getting.”
– Matthew Walker
Of course, we all want to look like we’re earning our paycheck. However, sleep deprivation costs the US economy $680 billion each year. Plus, even moderately sleep-deprived participants will have a 50% slower response time on the job, compared to someone who’s under the influence of alcohol.
Getting enough ZZZ’s every night is vital to performing well at work. It matters, not only for our health but for the economy as a whole.
Despite this, when you’re managing a particularly heavy schedule it can be all-too-easy to cut corners on sleep. Sometimes, other aspects of life just have to be dealt with. We are only human. But if you are feeling sluggish, forgetful or slow on too many days of the week, it could be worth speaking to your manager about whether you could sleep in the office. Seriously - taking a short nap in the daytime has been scientifically proven to boost performance.
The challenge will be convincing your superiors that a short sleep—or power nap—will give you the boost to productivity that you need. That’s why, in this article, we’ll show you what a power nap is and how it could benefit your working day. With a little help, you could show your superiors that hard rest really can equate to hard work.
What is a power nap and why do you need one?
A power nap is a daytime sleep that is short enough to give you a boost of energy and improve your concentration. There are different types of power naps and different durations:
- Compensatory naps
If you’re feeling sleep deprived, this type of nap could replace what you may have lost the night before. Duration: Up to 90 minutes
- Appetitive naps
If you aren’t feeling sleep deprived, appetitive naps in the afternoon can still boost productivity and reduce tiredness. Duration: Less than 30 minutes
- Prophylactic naps
If you work nighttime shifts where your natural circadian rhythm gets disrupted, napping ahead of time can prevent sleepiness on the job. Duration: Variable
Asking your boss for some time to sleep during the day may be a challenge. If that’s the case, know that napping for just 10 or 20 minutes can still bring significant benefits to your performance:
10-minute nap – Reduces fatigue and blood pressure. Increases alertness for up to 4 hours
20-minute nap – Boosts mood and cognitive performance without affecting nighttime sleep
90-minute nap – Improves memory, creativity and helps to feel fully refreshed
And if your boss is still not convinced, tell them a NASA study discovered that a 40-minute daytime nap increases performance by 34%.
5 ways a power nap will increase your productivity
- Increased alertness
Famous power nappers have included John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Albert Einstein and Winston Churchill. And for good reason - taking short afternoon naps has been proven to improve alertness, accuracy and short-term memory.
If you’re working in a fast-paced environment that requires quick decisions and lots of communication, a 20-minute nap could make all the difference to your day.
- Better creative problem solving
REM sleep is usually attained during a full cycle of sleep. If you’re able to take a 90-minute nap during the day, you should be able to benefit from REM sleep.
And it’s REM sleep we’ve got to thank for significantly enhancing creativity and emotional memory, both of which are needed to be a creative problem solver.
- Improved memory
Napping can have a huge impact on learning. Studies have proven that taking a break in-between academic studies for a 1-hour afternoon nap enhances memory to the equivalent of a whole hour of additional study.
And, following a study of 41 participants published in the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, daytime naps of 45 to 60 minutes are shown to improve memory retrieval by as much as 5 times.
- Fewer impulsive actions
Not sleeping enough has been proven to negatively impact impulsivity.
According to a study by the University of Michigan, napping could also help those who need to work night shifts by building resilience in their emotional responses.
If you sleep well, you’re less likely to do something you may have ordinarily thought twice about. And the last thing anyone wants is to lose another night’s sleep over something they regret.
- Reduced levels of stress
Have you ever felt like everything seemed much harder to deal with after a sleepless night?
Taking on too much stress can cause havoc on your mind, body and worst of all your sleep. By taking a short nap in the daytime you can lower your blood pressure and boost your immune system. You will also feel less stressed.
How to be a good power napper
Making time for a snooze in the day is a good idea. However, making sure you do it properly will take some practice. You should be aware that long napping in the day can lead to sleep inertia, which is that feeling of grogginess you get after a deep sleep.
By creating a few strategies to manage your time and environment, before long you could find a way to reap the benefits from regular daytime power napping.
And look, if the likes of Google and Ben & Jerry’s allow their staff to do it, why can’t you?
Set an alarm
Unless you’re already a pro at power napping, you’ll need to set an alarm. If you don’t, you could creep into a sleep that’s longer than you intended and end up feely groggy and worse off.
Use the timer on your smartphone to wake you up. This way, you’ll have some control over when you wake. Also, you’ll rest easy knowing that you won’t be oversleeping. This, of course, depends on having enough battery power in your phone to start with but there are techniques you can use to prevent your phone battery from running low.
Plan your nap after 2 pm
All of us have experienced that post-lunch, afternoon slump, right? When you feel heavier, sleepier and your eyelids start to droop.
Blood sugar levels start to dip after lunch, which can leave you feeling drowsy. This is when your body is ready to take a snooze and is the best time of the day for a nap.
It’s also a more efficient way of speeding up the sleep process. If you only have 20 minutes to get your shut-eye, you’ll want to get there quickly.
Find the right environment
Most leaders haven’t designed their offices to include staff sleeping areas.
However, with companies such as Cisco installing sleeping pods and embedding breakout/sleep areas for staff, we won’t have to wait too long until it’s the norm.
If you can, negotiate with your boss to reserve some time in an unused meeting room, staff facility or prayer room. These days, companies need to accommodate a variety of lifestyle needs, so it shouldn’t seem too out-of-the-ordinary. Find a quiet, air-conditioned room, grab a headrest or pillow and set your phone timer to wake you. Before long, you could be drifting off to dreamland in the blink of an eye.
Becoming an expert at power napping isn’t just great for your health, it’s great for your company.
And since there are so many benefits to a company’s bottom line, many more are starting to accommodate this need. Despite this, convincing your boss to let you have a sleep may be a challenge. To help you make up for any nighttime losses that are beyond your control, consider raising it.
Even just a 10-minute nap can help you feel more focused, alert and better able to achieve your goals.
Of course, the best remedy to boost your productivity is to do everything you can to sleep well every night. Try to avoid the many mistakes people make, like spending too much time on your phone before going to bed.
Instead, save your battery for the day after to schedule a daytime power nap. With the right conditions to become an expert power napper, it won’t be long before you get back to being ‘employee of the month’ again.
If after following these recommendations you’re still feeling tired throughout the day, and constantly fighting sleep, you may have a more serious sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea. If this is the case, no amount of napping will help you feel more rested.
If you live in Alaska and you would like to speak to a sleep specialist, please give Alaska Sleep Clinic a call today or click the link below..