Have you read any studies recently, or in the past, that said how beneficial naps are to high performance? I bet you have. Here’s one I read this week from the Wall Street Journal:
“In a 2012 study in the journal Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, researchers split 36 college-aged students into three groups. Each group learned a memory task, pairing words on a screen with a sound. Afterward, one group had 60 minutes to nap, another 10 minutes. The final group didn’t sleep.
Upon retesting, the napping groups fared better, as expected, said Sara Alger, lead author of the study and a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Notre Dame.
More interesting, she noted, was that on further testing, including a week later, the 60-minute group performed far better than the 10-minute group, which now performed as poorly as the non-napping group. The researchers concluded that slow-wave sleep—only experienced by the 60-minute nappers—is necessary for memory consolidation.”
The benefits of napping is one of those things that we as a society, for the most part, completely agree with. You never really ever hear anyone argue against it. Naps are good. So, why is napping at work still considered taboo?
Maybe a better question is: do you currently work at an organization where you would feel comfortable taking a nap, at work?
For the vast majority of you ready this the answer is ‘No’. While the benefits of napping to productivity are unquestioned, we (American Society) still see napping as a sign of weakness, of fragility, of not being able to handle it. There are a few of those ‘hip’ Silicon Valley companies who ‘allow’ napping, but for the most part who will not find napping rooms in most American companies. You will not find HR in American companies encouraging their teams to ‘shut-it-down’ at 2pm and having nap time across the company.
Don’t get me wrong, you will find American employees sleeping on the job! But don’t worry, HR will ‘handle’ that! I myself have fired employees for ‘sleeping’ on the job. The issue isn’t if napping is good for productivity. The issue is those employees getting fired for sleeping are doing it without consent or permission.
I wonder if employees, I even think about my own team, if told — “Hey, from now on out you can take a one hour nap at work!” — would they take advantage? I’m sure they would take advantage if they were told it wouldn’t effect their start and end times. What if you told your workforce — “We are now working 8am to 6pm, but from 2pm-3pm we’ll all be taking a nap!” How would that go over in your workplace. I have a feeling that ‘taking a nap’ would become a very negative ‘policy’ change!
So, what say you HR Pros — Has HR (In America) Evolved Enough To Allow Napping at Work?
I say, No!