Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Viva la Nap Revolution!

A certain stigma keeps us from being true to our core desires. Every day thousands are afraid to do what comes naturally. We need a change. It is time to break out the cots and blankies: We need a nap revolution.

According to a 2008 National Sleep Foundation (NSF) poll, 44 percent of adults sleep fewer than seven hours on weeknights. The lack of rest can result in employees who are impatient and unproductive. Other interesting findings:

  • 29 percent have fallen asleep or become very sleepy while at work
  • 12 percent were late to work due to sleepiness
  • 4 percent left work early and 2 percent did not go to work because they were too sleepy

The rigorous pace of the typical office does not help. Longer commutes bookend longer work days. Constant access to employees via BlackBerry and iPhone blur the line between work and home. As work becomes all-encompassing, changes are needed to help employees stay healthy and productive. Naps are the answer.

Those who take siestas are not lazy. As the "Boston Globe" illustrates, naps are part of the larger 24-hour sleep cycle. Jennifer Ackerman, a physiology journalist, explains:

"Most mammals sleep for short periods throughout the day. We have consolidated sleep into one long period, but . . . our bodies are programmed for two periods of intense sleepiness: in the early morning, from about 2 to 4 a.m., and in the afternoon, between 1 and 3 p.m. This midday wave of drowsiness is not due to heat or too many fries at lunch (it occurs even if we skip eating). Rather, it arises from an afternoon quiescent phase in our physiology, which diminishes our reaction time, memory, coordination, mood and alertness."

If naps are natural and necessary, why do only 34 percent of employers allow them at work? Why are resting lounges not a common health benefit like water coolers and flu shots?

Sleep is an important part of work/life balance and should not be neglected. Stufessionals owe it to themselves to join the nap revolution.


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