Sleeping on the job is normally considered bad for business. But, for about the past five or six years, I have made it a habit to take a short afternoon nap about three times a week. Although some of my friends and business associates laugh at me, I may be getting the last laugh. Recent medical studies have shown that napping for about 30 minutes in the early afternoon increases a person's productivity and alertness. In fact, some reports indicate that daytime naps should be part of a person's overall fitness and wellness program.
I took an unofficial survey this week asking people if they take naps while at work. Most men stated that they often sneak a few minutes of shut-eye when their boss is not around. Others say they doze off for a few minutes during their lunch hour or afternoon break. For some reason, though, not a single woman admitted to sleeping on the job. I am not sure why that is.
Some larger corporations have started to encourage employees to take a short nap. According to a recent report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, drowsiness on the job costs businesses approximately $18 billion a year in lost productivity. Other costs due to sleep deprivation include: increased errors and accidents; increased absenteeism, increased turnover and higher group insurance premiums.
In major metropolitan areas, sleep salons charge customers $12 for 30 minutes of sleeptime. One company, MetroNaps, sells and rents napping "pods", which are trendy, comfortable reclining chairs equipped with headphones. I am thankful that my office is only a four minute drive to my house where I take my afternoon nap for free.
There is an art to napping, though. For example, I become groggy and less productive if I sleep for more than 45 minutes. I feel the most rested if I nod off for about 20 minutes. Most of the time, I do not even realize that I slept when I wake up from a nap. I also find that a morning nap does not make me any more productive in the afternoon.
There is also good news for those of us who are Greek. A study published last month in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that Greek adults who take regular, 30-minute naps have a 37 percent lower risk of dying from heart attacks or other heart problems than those who do not nap.
I do not consider myself a person who is very physically fit. In fact, I often avoid most types of exercise. But if napping in the afternoon makes me a more healthy person, then I am all for it. And it doesn't hurt that I am Greek.