Strategic Napping

You guys know I’m always on the outlook for things that will make my recruiters more productive – the constant beatings have proven only to be successful in the short-term!  So, when I read the NY Times article Rethinking Sleeping I was a bit, but hopeful, that maybe science has come up with something that won’t cost me more money.  I’ve always been envious of folks that only need 4-6 hours of sleep per night and seem fresh as a daisy – I’m also skeptical since I think most people lie about how much sleep they get and not on the high side.  Most people I run into wear their lack of sleep like a badge of honor – “I only sleep 4 hours per night!” – so you go to bed when? Midnight? And get up at 4am?  Really?!? Reeaallly!!!??? Come on – I’m calling bullshit.  It’s just like the people who tell you they work 80 hours per week – No you don’t – you can’t count your 1 hour each way commute time and checking email on your iPhone as you sit on the toilet before you go to bed – that doesn’t count!

I’m a 7 hour per night kind of sleeper – I go to bed at 11:30 pm – alarm goes off at 6:30am – I’m a no snooze alarm person, wants it goes off, I’m up.  Now on the weekends that changes up a bit – its usually anywhere from midnight to 2am watching movie in bed time until however long I can force myself to stay in bed in the morning which is usually 9am at the latest – again it’s probably a rough 7-9, maybe 9 hours on Saturday and Sunday.  Now, I could say I only sleep 4 hours – because let’s face it – I’m 40ish – around 2-4am I’m up, peeing – thank you old age.  My grandmother is a true 4 hour a sleep person – she is 83 and I think it pisses her off that she actually has to go to bed – I think she would prefer to just keep drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes at the kitchen table all night – but alas, she forces herself to go to bed.  I’m completely envious of her telling me stories of how she is up at 4am, and has to force herself to stay in bed that long!  I keep waiting for those genetics to kick in – can you imagine how much you could get done by only sleeping 4 hours!

‘They’ tell us we should get 8 hours of sleep a night.  We assume that means 8 hours in a row- but new research is showing us that maybe 8 hours in a row isn’t what is really needed to be most productive.  From the NY Times article:

This, despite the fact that a number of recent studies suggest that any deep sleep — whether in an eight-hour block or a 30-minute nap — primes our brains to function at a higher level, letting us come up with better ideas, find solutions to puzzles more quickly, identify patterns faster and recall information more accurately. In a NASA-financed study, for example, a team of researchers led by David F. Dinges, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, found that letting subjects nap for as little as 24 minutes improved their cognitive performance…

Gradual acceptance of the notion that sequential sleep hours are not essential for high-level job performance has led to increased workplace tolerance for napping and other alternate daily schedules.  Employees at Google, for instance, are offered the chance to nap at work because the company believes it may increase productivity.

Here is what I know – taking a nap at work in America, in 99% of our organizations, is going to be looked at as a sign something is wrong with you – unfortunately. We haven’t opened enough minds yet to make this acceptable behavior.  Do I think taking a strategic nap during the day has merit – I do – but would your employees be willing to take an extra hour nap and then work until 6pm?  Doubtful, right?  There in lies that balance issue – if you sleep during work hours, work hours get expanded – and you have to be willing to push your concept of family balance out to the extra time you’ll have not sleeping later at night or early in the morning – that is a big jump in perception for our society right now.

5 thoughts on “Strategic Napping

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  2. This all ties back into our busy and worker-bee mentality. If we’re not working, we’re checking our email from our mobile. If we’re not checking our email, our family has x, y, or z things to do afterward. It’s a fast-paced world now and naps just aren’t important enough to live in them. Does that mean I think their unimportant? No — so let’s take a nap! We’re both going to be here longer than 5pm anyway, right?

  3. Interesting,
    I have delayed sleep phase disorder (wikipedia that for an explanation) and when I tell people I’ve only had 4 hours sleep I actually mean it, even when I show up late after “sleeping in”. Yet nobody believes me because normal sleepers simply cannot understand sleeping troubles.
    At best someone with 4 hours sleep will only remain productive for a few hours in the day provided we are talking about work where you actually need to think. If you have sleeping issues like me, physical brain dead work is easy, office work very hard.
    I like the nap idea, but most western workplaces do not have the environment for that. Imagine trying to sleep in an open office plan environment! Though I have herd that some Japanese companies have a sleeping room, but thats only because they work so hard there is no time to go home.
    Yet the biggest issue the the social stigma we have of sleep, that being sleep = lazy person. We need to change that and associate the sleep with productivity.

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  5. Pingback: Tim Sackett introduces Strategic Napping | Fistful of Talent

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