“Start Sleeping on the Job or You’re Fired!”

By “Start Sleeping on the Job or You’re Fired!” Holger Reisinger

Scientists have long understood the benefits of a quick nap, such as greater productivity, better decision making and improved overall health. But catching some Zzzzs while on the job? Meet a pioneering company that’s working to change our attitudes about stealing a few winks in the workplace.

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It wasn’t long ago that napping at work was a great way to get fired.

But if a U.S. company has its way, getting a few minutes of shut-eye on the job may just make you a better employee.

Allow me to introduce MetroNaps, perhaps the most courageous company in the world. That’s because MetroNaps is determined to eliminate one of the biggest taboos in the workplace: dozing on the job. They’re the kind of organization that embodies a “new ways of working” philosophy that’s crucial to business success in the 21st Century.

MetroNaps bills itself as “the premier provider of workplace rest systems.” Climb inside one of its futuristic-looking EnergyPods, don a pair of noise-cancelling headsets, tune in to soothing music and drift off to sleep. Twenty minutes later, you awake refreshed, invigorated and prepared to tackle the remainder of the workday.

Boosting Productivity…

While stealing a few winks on the job has long been a no-no, research shows a strong link between napping and increased productivity in the workplace. According to sleep scientists, our brains are wired to achieve maximum productivity only if every 90 minutes of work is followed by about 20 minutes of recharging. Without that break, stress builds and productivity plunges. (Check out a past blog for a great explanation of the left-brain/right-brain science behind it all.)

That means that a 15- to 20-minute nap is all that’s required to dramatically increase productivity and alertness, enabling recharged workers to far outperform their less-well-rested counterparts. Plus a bit of afternoon repose provides a healthier, longer-lasting energy boost than caffeine from coffee or soda.

All this should come as welcome news for today’s organizations, which increasingly need to tap into the potential of workers to get more done in less time while remaining satisfied in their jobs.

… And Overall Health

In addition to increasing workplace productivity, napping can address one of today’s most pressing health issues: Insufficient sleep. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average adult needs seven to eight hours of sleep a night. Yet 35% of workers report getting less than seven hours of sleep a night and 40% say that they unintentionally doze off during the day.

That’s a problem, especially since researchers know that sleep is a big contributor to improved health, better decision making, sharper brain activity and a stronger immune system.

And then we haven’t even discussed the matter of stress – an issue we have discussed before here on the blog. Research leaves no doubt that people lacking good sleep and sufficient rest experienced higher levels of stress.

At a time when companies are employing all kinds of strategies to help improve employee health – such as building wellness centers, paying for fitness club memberships and providing reduced cost insurance coverage to fitter employees – allowing a short nap while on the job seems like an idea whose time has come.

Overcoming the Taboo

Now MetroNaps just needs to convince the skeptics. Its co-founder even admits that when the company began in 2004 people thought they were crazy for encouraging sleeping on the job. But he argues that for decades it was OK to go outside for a smoke break, why shouldn’t be OK to take a few minutes to nod off?

He has a good point, and others seem to agree. You’ll find MetroNaps’ sleeping pods in many universities, airports and corporate workplaces, including Google, Cisco Systems, Procter & Gamble and NASA, according to the Company.

What do those organizations know that the rest of us don’t? It’s time for everyone to begin realizing the virtues of napping while at Work.

I’m up for one right now. Are you?