“Ignoring the body’s need for recuperation or drugging it into submission may keep workers awake. What it won’t do is position them to deliver their best performance.” — Ron Friedman, Ph.D.
This quote is from Huffington Post’s exclusive excerpt of Dr. Friedman’s book, The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace (Penguin Random House/Perigee). It takes an expert look at the way the type of work we do suffers when we don’t take a nap as needed.
If you don’t need to use your brain to work, the kind of work break needed to stay productive is different. Factory workers who are on the line are doing repetitive tasks that generally don’t need creative effort and they need a physical break. But most office workers are doing a different type of job, one that requires interpersonal collaboration and highly creative problem solving. This requires a mental break, and the research indicates a nap is a great way to do it.
Basically, a short (20-30 minute) nap recharges your brain and boosts energy levels so you don’t drag through the rest of the day contributing your presence but not your best. This isn’t deep sleep, because that would make you groggy. This is just the light catnap that refreshes the brain and allows new energy and ideas to come to the surface.
Nap Spaces in Office Environments
Office design ideas in 2015 reflect what’s happening in the rest of the world: it makes space for naps. There are several ways to do this and some are simply a matter of rearranging the office space design to give a sense of privacy to an individual.
Other options range from dedicated ‘nap rooms’ to pods built for napping, complete with sound systems, light control, and a timer to gently vibrate you awake twenty minutes later. There are many ways to give workers in the knowledge industries — which is most office work — the necessary mental recuperation a short nap provides.
Recognizing the needs of the people in the office means designing that office for maximum effectiveness. It’s ironic that providing space in the design for naps promotes productivity, but the proof is in the growing body of scientific research on this subject. But if you don’t want to wade through the studies, just try taking a short, light nap next time you get drowsy in the afternoon and see what happens.