Why Sleeping on the Job can be a Good Thing.

Posted by martin.parnell |

Every afternoon, if I happen to be working from home, I take a short nap. I find it reenergises me and revitalises my work and it’s especially beneficial if I have an evening meeting or professional engagement. 

Lucia Binding in the UK’s Evening Standard , 30th. April 2018, quotes a study, first published in the Telegraph, conducted by the University of Delaware. It considered the link between a post-lunch sleep and brain function in early adolescents. A total of 363 youngsters were included in the study and it resulted in the conclusion that nap times should be scheduled into the school day, in secondary schools.

The study, which was published in the journal Behavioural Sleep Medicine, also revealed that those who napped more often tended to have a better night time sleep. Xiaopeng Ji, leader of the study who has studied the natural sleep and wake pattern of cells known as the circadian rhythm, said: “Young people who napped five to seven days during the week had better nonverbal reasoning ability, spatial memory and sustained attention, they found.

The optimal amount of nap time was found to be between 30 and 60 minutes. Midday napping, night-time sleep duration and sleep quality was measured by the researchers, along with performance on multiple neurocognitive tasks. The study also revealed that teens who put down their smart-phones an hour before bed gained an extra 21 minutes sleep a night and an hour and 45 minutes over the school week. So this would appear to support my opinion that napping is a good thing.

However, on the Chron website, Lisa McQuerrey  tells us that on MayoClinic.com a study shows: “Napping in the workplace can have both health and productivity benefits, like reduced fatigue and increased reaction time”. McQuerrey then looks into why napping in the workplace might be challenging: “Even if you get employer support for a mid-day siesta, consider the logistical elements that come into play when it comes to catching 40 winks at your desk. 

Where to Sleep

Cat naps can be productive if they truly provide good rest. If you don’t have a dark, quiet place to sleep, your sleep is likely to be spotty, which can actually add to your tiredness and make it more difficult to sleep at night. If you’re the type of person who takes a while to doze off, you could find that trying to catch a nap in the middle of the day is more trouble than its worth, especially if you take 20 minutes to nod off and you’ve only allocated 30 minutes to a nap.

When to Sleep

MayoClinic.com indicates that the best time to catch a mid-day nap is between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. Anything later has the potential to interrupt your regular nighttime REM sleep. If you can’t regularly carve out this portion of the day, erratic nap habits can make it difficult for your body to adjust to a beneficial sleep schedule. If you work by appointment, or need to be available to customers, clients or colleagues on a regular basis, napping at work can hurt your productivity.


Napping at work can be perceived as lazy or selfish. You might have colleagues who think you’re taking unfair advantage or getting special treatment if you’re allowed to doze at work. Customers or clients who walk in or call during a nap period may also question your professionalism, which can have a negative effect on your reputation, and your company's reputation.

Increased Tiredness

For some people, a cat nap is refreshing; for others, it can lead to daytime drowsiness and make you feel even less rested than before you took the snooze. If it takes you awhile to perk up after sleep, the latter part of your workday could be slowed down. You may find it difficult to get refocused and not be as productive as necessary.

In some countries, an afternoon nap is part of everyday life. As explained on Sleep.org. The tradition began due to the fact that temperature climbed to such a degree, in the afternoons, that it is becomes too hot to be outside and therefore difficult for certain work to be carried out.

Over time, different cultures have tweaked the napping habit to suit their preferences. For example:

In China: Workers often take a break after lunch and put their heads on their desks for an hour-long nap. It’s considered a Constitutional right.

In Italy: The riposo may begin anytime between noon and 1:30pm and run until 2:30pm to 4:00pm. Businesses shut down, and public venues like museums and churches lock their doors so their employees can go home for a leisurely lunch and a snooze.

In Spain: The siesta is deeply ingrained, as businesses often close for hours to accommodate the mid-day rest. While the siesta can span two hours, only a fraction of the time is actually spent napping; first, there’s lunch with family and friends, then a rest. Because of the mid-day break, people often work later into the evening.

Many people have advocated for the benefits of taking a regular nap. Albert Einstein claimed that his daytime naps to fuel that amazing brain of his. Other well-known “nappers” include Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Ronald Reagan, Aristotle and Margaret Thatcher. 

I’m no Einstein, but I do know that my afternoon nap leaves me feeling refreshed and ready for my next task. If you find that you are fading by mid-afternoon, why not try taking a few minutes to close your eyes and take a brief nap? 

You may find that, like me, it’s just the little boost you need to set you up for the rest of the working day.

About the Author

Martin Parnell is the Best-Selling author of MARATHON QUEST and RUNNING TO THE EDGE and speaks on having a “Finish the Race Attitude – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieve Your Full Potential”. Martin has written for, or been covered by CNNBBCCBCThe Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The National Post, Runners World, Men’s Journal, Canadian Business, and Maclean’s.

In a five year period, from 2010 to 2014, Martin completed 10 extreme endurance “Quests” including running 250 marathons in one year and raising $1.3m for the humanitarian organization Right To Play. Find out more about Martin at www.martinparnell.com  and see what he can do for you in the long run.

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