Published 19 December 2018 Category: Compass Tips, Workplace Health

To Nap or Not to Nap? The Benefits of a Power Nap

So you’re at work, it’s post-lunchtime and you’re stuffed with delicious food from the Chinese restaurant across the block. You chat around with colleagues and finally get to your desk to finish off dreaded tasks. But as you stare into the computer screen, you feel drowsy and sleepy. You’ve been awake since 5 a.m and had an exhausting morning so it’s obvious to feel groggy by 2 p.m. What do you do? To nap or not to tap?
If you’re happening to read this article right at this post-lunchtime, then we’re here to give you the good news - YES, you can nap. The bad news is, if you’ve got an open office space, you may have to find solitude somewhere to catch the 10 minutes power nap!

What Exactly is a Power Nap and Why Do You Need One?

According to WebMD, when you’re feeling groggy at work, it is better to opt for a quick power nap than to lean on caffeine. Power naps have been known to help relax your mind after a stressful morning at work, provides the mental alertness and freshness that you need and also help you cope with the rest of the day. It does so without raising your heartbeat, without causing you jitters or anxiousness or without making you feel like a zombie trying to stay awake (everything that coffee seems to do). In fact, according to recent research, a power nap of 20 to 30 minutes is essential for improving mood, alertness and performance.

Should You Take a Nap at Work Then?

Now, this is a tricky answer. Social conventions imply that those who nap at work are either slacking off or they could be ill/exhausted/have a headache. If you’ve noticed, the moment you place your head down, someone or the other is bound to come around and ask you if you’re alright. Others may start gossiping about you or your boss could get annoyed. Socially then, it’s hard to just put your head down during the work day and sleep. That being said, you also need to understand that your health matters. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, groggy and simply cannot function without going for a quick eye-shut then go for it.
According to the New York Times which cited a medical study by Nature Neuroscience, “researchers tested subjects on their perceptual performance four times throughout the day. Performance deteriorated with each test, but subjects who took a 30-minute nap between tests stopped the deterioration in performance, and those who took a 60-minute nap even reversed it.”
The article encourages people to take the much-needed nap and never to apologize for it! So if you’ve got someone questioning your performance when you’re taking a few minutes of mental restoration for yourself, try to explain to them the benefits behind it.

What to Do if You Do Not Have the Right Office Space?

Open office spaces have been criticized for its negative impact on productivity & collaboration. People feel more cramped and annoyed when they are forced to sit in open spaces with no privacy & no comfort zone. Open office spaces are also messy, usually noisy and tend to have less collaboration between members. This is why private desks are always a more favored form of office space where employees can get a little privacy and can feel comfortable working. Some organizations such as Google, (where employee well-being is a priority) also have resting areas where employees can take a quick nap and nobody frowns on them!  Some small space offices also have small rooms allocated for informal meetings or coffee breaks that you can use as a good napping spot.
If you’ve got an open office space, it may be difficult to actually take a power nap without causing unnecessary attention. In that case, it is highly recommended that you try to find a quiet space where you can rest without interruptions (and without getting into trouble with the management). You can also try requesting management to provide employees with a comfortable resting spot where they can take a break for a few minutes during the day. Most companies would actually consider this especially if it’s about employee well-being and can help in increasing morale and productivity.