It creeps around in the early morning cubical shadows like a ninja, then right around two-thirty p.m., it catapults up in front of us with the force of a concrete slab. “It”, is the familiar and relentless urge to take an afternoon nap. Sadly, the idea of napping is draped in stigma which leads most people to tackle it with their arsenal of energy drinks, coffee, and candy bars. Some common misconceptions associated with napping are that its only for the very young or the very old. Additional misconceptions include: napping is for the sick, the weak, and the lazy. Even news story headlines promote scandal when company employees are caught napping on the job. Least of all we forget what our bosses might think if they caught us with our heads on our desks taking a little siesta! The typical employee wastes many hours trying to dodge or disguise the need for a nap as they wage a battle against their own bodies. Instead, companies should embrace the natural body cycle and integrate napping into the workplace. Allowing employees to take a twenty to thirty minute nap during work hours increases productivity, decreases health issues, and serves as a low cost, high yield benefit for employers to offer. With a plethora of scientific data to back up these three beneficial areas, savvy employers should strive to adopt their own napping program.
Current research shows that after a twenty to thirty minute nap, people are better able to learn new information, enjoy a boost of creativity, and are more pleasant to be around. Cultivating these attributes can only help to increase productivity and the quality of work versus slogging through the afternoon with a stagnant office full of caffeinated monitor zombies. Giving some insight to the root of the afternoon sleepiness epidemic, Bob Strickgold, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School shares the following:
The main problem is that the mechanics of the human body don’t mesh well with a 9-to-5 work day. Researchers have found that when humans are fed at regular intervals and deprived of all sources of time, such as light and clocks, they have the greatest tendency to fall asleep during two periods of the day: between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. These are natural dips in our biological clocks, or circadian rhythms, and the core body temperature drops along with the person’s eyelids. (Sandberg par. 10)
This means we can stop blaming the food we ate for lunch for making us sleepy and focus on using daytime naps as a realistic compromise to a natural function of the human body, while harnessing as many of the added benefits as possible. The benefit of creativity is an excellent example and also the focus of a recent study by neuroscience researchers from Georgetown University. They examined the mental spark in the brain hemisphere associated with creativity and found a significant increase in brain activity while the individuals were at rest (Gardner par. 4). NASA also conducted an...