Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Can a Midday "Power Nap" Improve Your Work Life?

Tuesdays are my long days at school. I get here a little before 7:00am. I teach four classes in the daytime, with a break for lunch. Then I hold office hours all afternoon until 7:00pm, when I teach a 3-hour night class. Some nights I don't sleep well as I should, and I often find myself a little fatigued (but not really sleepy) during my long Tuesdays.

I've rarely considered taking a nap in the office to refresh myself -- I'm not really a napper. Yet
this Busisness Week article on the benefits of a midday "working nap" has got me thinking about it! Here's the introduction:

Sleeping on the job used to be grounds for dismissal. But now, years after Cornell University psychologist James Maas coined the term "power nap," companies are beginning to embrace the practice. Today, Nike and Deloitte Consulting are among those that encourage employees to add a midday snooze to their to-do lists. Sleep scientist Sara Mednick applauds this trend. Mednick, a researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego and author of the new book Take a Nap! Change Your Life (Workman Publishing), says napping can enhance productivity. She explains how to Associate Editor Arlene Weintraub.
The interview's brief. Here's Mednick's response on the benefits of sleep:

Research on sleep deprivation shows that even at six hours a night, there are all sorts of changes in the body. Insulin rises to pre-diabetes levels. There's an increase in heart disease. Without sleep you don't learn. My research shows that people deteriorate during the day. It's difficult to sustain productivity. Naps can add back to the sleep you're deprived of at night. And a nap enhances productivity even if you have enough nocturnal sleep.
What if you're not much of a napper, like me?

I tell them to get rid of nap blockers: too much caffeine or alcohol. There's nothing wrong with that morning coffee at 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. if you're going to nap at 1 o'clock. But while alcohol makes you tired, it disrupts the sleep cycle. So no martini lunches. And you need to remove the mental blocks--thinking you're not being productive or that you're being lazy if you nap.
Well, there you go! No more double Thermos' of my daily Folger's!

Check out the whole thing. Mednick suggests naps at work might become the next telecommuting. As more and more bosses see increases in productivity, the daytime work snooze may become the norm.

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