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Can Sleeping at Work Increase Productivity?

by | Aug 15, 2022

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Sleeping at work—have you done it? Thought about doing it? Know people who do it? The idea of sleeping at work seems like a comical trope, but it’s surprisingly common. Some believe sleeping at work is unprofessional and that employers should discipline employees for doing it. Others believe that napping during the day can improve productivity.

Who is right? In this post, we will explore the issue of sleeping at work. We will discuss the benefits of napping at work and things employers should consider.

 

Employees in these industries admit to falling asleep at work

So, who is falling asleep at work? Amerisleep, a mattress company, surveyed 1,001 workers across various industries to answer this question. They examined 12 sectors. A whopping 70% of tech workers admitted to sometimes sleeping on the job—this was the highest group.

The industry least likely to sleep at work was the arts, entertainment, and recreation. Still, 35% of workers in this industry admitted to sometimes sleeping on the job.

What does this tell us? No matter which industry you work in, it’s likely that you’ve caught yourself (or a coworker) dozing off at work. If you have, you’re not alone.

 

Naps during work hours improve performance

Scientific research has established that sleep deprivation causes a dip in productivity at work. It also has negative effects on health. 

A study in the Journal of Sleep Research found that naps can be a part of a comprehensive alertness-management strategy. In operational settings, naps can help manage fatigue and allow workers to stay alert throughout long shifts. This promotes safety for workers who work around dangerous equipment. 

But what is the optimal nap length and how long do the effects of naps last?

 

How long should employees nap?

One study showed that short naps (10-30 minutes) help workers feel more awake and improve performance. Long naps were associated with less productivity and sleep inertia. Sleep inertia is that groggy, disoriented feeling you get after waking up from a long nap or after getting less than six hours of sleep.

 

How long do the benefits of napping last?

Another study showed that the beneficial effects of short naps (5-15 minutes) have beneficial short-term effects that last around 1-3 hours. Naps longer than 30 minutes can induce sleep inertia for a while, but once feelings of drowsiness and confusion wear off, the cognitive benefits of the long nap last much longer, up to many hours. 

 

Sleeping at work helps you regulate your emotions

Do you dread looming deadlines? What about frustration over a difference of opinions with a coworker or boss? How about just plain stressed out? If you’ve ever held a job on the planet Earth, the likelihood is high that your answer is “yes”.   

Even when we enjoy our responsibilities and the people we work with, occasional negative emotions are inescapable in the workplace as they are elsewhere in life.  And for some, the workplace can be rife with negative emotions. 

So, what can be done to help us deal with these challenging emotions? You guessed it—napping. 

Researchers at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine found that daily 20-minute naps were positively correlated with reduced stress in med students. The ability to manage stress can be paramount to your mental health and success at work. 

Other researchers found that napping actually helps you evaluate other people’s emotional states by promoting better recognition of emotional facial expressions. The boost you get from napping to evaluate facial cues can certainly be helpful for navigating a team environment. 

 

Should workplaces provide places to nap?

The blurring of the work-life boundary

The technology of the past decade allows work to contact us anytime, anywhere. As a result, the boundary between work and personal life has eroded for some. Extra work time pushes back non-work priorities that the person must take care of later and later. This pushes back bedtime and results in a loss of sleep. In other cases, some remain awake answering emails on their phones or performing other tasks when they would normally be sleeping. 

The blurring of the work-life boundary and the resulting loss of sleep is not just about time management. The added stress that follows employees home after working hours takes a toll, causing sleep problems. Up to a third of all adults experience chronic insomnia. More occasional insomnia symptoms affect up to 50% of adults. No wonder so many employees have trouble staying awake!

 

Nap rooms in the workplace

We know that a large percentage of American workers experience sleep deprivation and sleep disorders. We also know that feeling tired leads to a loss of productivity and safety hazards. So should companies provide spaces for employees to take power naps at work?

The answer is “yes!” according to some of the largest, most innovative companies in America including Google, Uber, and Zappos. Sleep science has shown that napping leads to better health and increased productivity. So it is in a company’s best interest to provide nap rooms or sleep pods where employees could take short naps during work hours.

Of course, there are logistical questions to consider. How should a company allow a worker to nap? Should employers pay employees to nap? Does the employee have to stay later to make up the nap time?

As more and more companies put nap rooms and napping policies in place, the answers to those questions will be revealed.

 

Power nap with Somnox to regain your focus at work

Somnox is a Breathe & Sleep Companion that helps you relax and sleep by helping you regulate your breathing. Thousands have benefited from Somnox helping them fall and stay asleep at night.

But nighttime sleep isn’t the only thing Somnox can help with. Somnox can be used any time of day to help you unwind, calm down, meditate, or nap. The sleep companion is a 24-hour resource for self-care.

If you work from home, Somnox is easy to reach for when you’ve been chugging along since morning and feel yourself start to fade in the afternoon. Then all you need to do is cuddle up with your Somnox, draw the shades, and set an alarm for anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. After snoozing for a short while, you should wake up refreshed and ready to refocus yourself on your work for the rest of the afternoon. 

If your employer permits napping and either provides nap rooms or if you have an office door that shuts, bring your Somnox to work if you know you have a long day ahead of you and know you’ll need a nap. 

It never hurts to take a moment for yourself so you awake renewed and ready for everything the rest of the day will throw your way. 

 

In summary

Many people admit to falling asleep in the workplace. Research suggests that napping during work hours can improve performance and that it would benefit both employees and employers if companies provided napping spaces. 

When napping during the workday, consider how long your nap should be so that you wake up feeling energized and not groggy. Also, consider how long the benefits will last you when planning your nap. 

If you’ve found yourself nodding off at work, you may not be getting the restful sleep you need at night. Somnox is an excellent resource for those looking to fall asleep easily and quickly day or night and wake up well-rested. Take our online sleep test to determine if Somnox is right for you.

 

Sources

Bhaskar, S., Hemavathy, D., & Prasad, S. (2016). Prevalence of chronic insomnia in adult patients and its correlation with medical comorbidities. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 5(4), 780. https://doi.org/10.4103/2249-4863.201153

Dhand, R., & Sohal, H. (2007). Good sleep, bad sleep! The role of daytime naps in healthy adults. Current Opinion in Internal Medicine, 6(1), 91–94. https://doi.org/10.1097/01.mcp.0000245703.92311.d0

Hernandez C, Daly K, Mehta A and Verduin M. A Pilot Study Examining Biofeedback and Structured Napping to Promote Medical Student Wellbeing [version 1]. MedEdPublish 2019, 8:110 (https://doi.org/10.15694/mep.2019.000110.1)

Hyde, M. (2022, July 17). Sleeping at Work. Amerisleep. https://amerisleep.com/blog/sleeping-at-work/

Insomnia: Causes, Risks & Treatments. (2020, October 15). Cleveland Clinic. Retrieved August 4, 2022, from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/12119-insomnia#:%7E:text=They%20affect%20up%20to%2070,at%2010%25%20to%2015%25

Lovato, N., & Leon, L. (2010). The effects of napping on cognitive functioning. Progress in Brain Research, 185, 155–166. B978-0-444-53702-7.00009-9 https://doi.org/10.1016/ 

Ninad Gujar, Steven Andrew McDonald, Masaki Nishida, Matthew P. Walker, A Role for REM Sleep in Recalibrating the Sensitivity of the Human Brain to Specific Emotions, Cerebral Cortex, Volume 21, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 115–123, https://doi.org/10.1093/cercor/bhq064

ROSEKIND, M. R., SMITH, R. M., MILLER, D. L., CO, E. L., GREGORY, K. B., WEBBON, L. L., GANDER, P. H., & LEBACQZ, J. V. (1995). Alertness management: strategic naps in operational settings. Journal of Sleep Research, 4, 62–66. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2869.1995.tb00229.x

Takahashi, M. Prioritizing sleep for healthy work schedules. J Physiol Anthropol 31, 6 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1186/1880-6805-31-6

7 U.S. Census Bureau. (2021, October 8). Using Administrative Data, Census Bureau Can Now Track the Rise in Multiple Jobholders. United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2021/02/new-way-to-measure-how-many-americans-work-more-than-one-job.html

Wilkie, D. (2021, July 6). Asleep on the Job: When to Discipline, When to Accommodate. SHRM. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/employee-relations/pages/sleeping-on-the-job.aspx

 

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