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Need a nap?

If given the opportunity to nap at work, how many of us would take it?

Naps are proven to sharpen the brain, boosting alertness and improving performance, and can be good for our overall health and well-being, but still… It’s not something we Brits tend to do as a rule.

Not like some of our European counterparts who value the siesta or, indeed, the Chinese. In China, napping is an integral part of the office culture. Introduced in schools as a vital part of the day, Chinese workers have grown up with the nap and so are not adverse to a two-hour lunch, which enables them to get their napping in undisturbed.

In the UK, along with pretty much the rest of the Western world, all of our boundaries are now blurred. We now live in a constantly ‘on’ society, regardless of our countries of origin. Advances in technology, in the last couple of decades, have seen to that. For most, checking emails at night is the norm, regardless of whether they are work emails or personal. We can access all accounts and we generally do.

So, if work is bleeding into our home and social lives, why not have it the other way around too and catch up on some sleep during the regular working day? Colleagues are used to one another signing out to attend school events and activities with their kids, with a view to catch up on work in the evening, so why not sign out for a short sleep too?

With experts advocating naps as a means of increasing alertness, memory, cognition and mood, it’s certainly worth considering. Naps should be limited to less than 20 minutes to avoid grogginess, with 10 minutes added on for recovery time. It’s all about retaining an element of freshness – you want your employees to be alert and awake, firing on all cylinders and ready to go. Too long a recovery time doesn’t benefit anyone.

The US is ahead of us in recognizing the benefits of on-site napping. Nap rooms are more common than they are over here, with workers making use of these spaces for both sleep and meditation.

Naturally it’s California and, most notably, Google that is leading the way. At Google’s Californian home base, workers can enjoy campus-wide nap pods, with lounge chairs that play calming music so employees can snooze whenever they feel the need.

Could this take off in the UK? Are we ready for dedicated napping spaces or even just the okay to nap in a quiet corner without feeling foolish? From an employer’s point of view, there is always room for anything that improves productivity and performance. However, it would take a huge shift in our cultural sensibility to make short naps in the office the norm.

Good office coffee, on the other hand… Until office beds and sleep pods become more of a regular thing, it’s possibly worth investing in the best quality of bean. That will pretty much get most of us through the working day.


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