You have probably heard about the high-tech egg-shaped nap pods that Google has in their offices across the world or the capsule like napping beds at Facebook offices that draw in weary interns and employees. While to many of us this may seem like an unnecessary (and expensive) luxury that hi-tech companies are using to bring in millennial employees and maintain their ‘coolness’ factor, quite the opposite is true. Many companies, including Nike, Zappos, PwC, Ben & Jerry’s and many more, are realizing the benefit that the power nap has on their bottom line.
By definition, a power nap is a short sleep taken during the working day to restore one’s mental alertness. And what many companies and researchers are finding is that by allowing employees the opportunity to nap at work, the increase in alertness, productivity, and overall cognitive ability is worth more than the twenty to thirty minutes that they are not at their desk. In fact, it can go a long way in reducing the $18 billion a year that drowsiness costs U.S employers in lost productivity.
There have been a number of studies to support the positive effects of napping in the workplace. Robert Stickgold, a Harvard sleep research, says napping makes people more effective problem solvers. His research has shown that napping helps people separate important information from extraneous details.
Fun Fact: Einstein frequently napped during the day to help him think more clearly. He would sit in his favorite armchair with a pencil in his hand and purposefully doze off. He would wake when the pencil dropped, ensuring he did not enter deep sleep from which it would be difficult to wake up.
Another study found in the research journal Sleep showed that a 10-minute nap reduces overall sleepiness and improves cognitive performance. A 20-minute power nap, which is also sometimes called the stage 2 nap, helps improve alertness and motor learning skills.
Here are some interesting facts about napping:
So, if you want to increase productivity and your overall mental prowess in the workplace, you are going to have to toss aside all the myths about napping, including that it is only for those who are under 5 or just lazy, and learn to perfect the power nap.
5 Keys to Perfecting the Power Nap
Here are a few tips on how to perfect the power nap:
Keep it to 20-minutes or under. Studies have shown that catnaps for as little as 6 minutes can increase the ability to retain information but to maximize the benefits of napping, aim for between ten to twenty minutes. Go over 30 minutes, and you run the risk of getting sleep inertia, or that horrible grogginess that can sometimes follow sleep.
Have a nap schedule. Having a regular nap time, or nap schedule tends to help people fall asleep faster and wake up quicker. For most people, prime napping occurs between 1 pm and 3 pm.
Find a dark and quiet place. The last thing you want to do during your nap time is struggle with falling asleep. Areas that have reduced light and noise tend to help people fall asleep faster.
Grab your blanket. Your body temperature naturally lowers when you are asleep, so grab a blanket to put over your body to stay warm. But not too warm, as cool areas tend to help initiate sleep.
Watch your caffeine intake. You will want to plan your caffeine intake carefully, as it does take some time to kick-in and does prevent many people from being able to fall asleep.
Even though the benefits of napping are well-proven, companies like Google, Facebook and Nike are an exception and the reality is that most businesses cannot provide a nap space or nap benefit to employees. And that’s okay! Power naps can still be effective when used on rest days, to space out sleep during the day or by nighttime shift workers before a shift. What’s most important is that you are getting the right amount of sleep to avoid sleep fatigue and the many issues that can result from a lack of sleep.