Have you ever gone to work and found yourself lagging somewhere in the middle of the day? Do you know the feeling of wishing that you could just put your head down on your desk for fifteen minutes? As it turns out, not only is that a very common experience, but a lot of big name companies are starting to signal that that’s just fine with them because it makes their employees much more productive.
Where taking a nap at work was once something that nobody in their right mind could ever have suggested at work, today it’s something that companies are encouraging their workers to do. Why? Because studies have shown that a twenty-minute nap is the most powerful tool available to counter the high level of sleep deprivation that is prevalent in the United States and which has been blamed for $63 billion worth of lost productivity.
It’s all about employee wellness according to a representative of Ben & Jerry’s, the Vermont ice cream maker. “We look out for our employees’ quality of life, and providing space and time for naps is just another way for us to take care of the people who work there. If people need to catch a little snooze during the day to do the best possible job they can do, we’re behind it.” They provide a nap room complete with a bed and comfy pillows, in addition to offering such other perks as personal trainers and the ability to bring their pups to work with them.
Ben & Jerry’s is by no means alone in their progressive approach to sleep. Online shoe retailer Zappos, which has already made a name for itself in terms of taking care of employees by providing fully subsidized employee health insurance, has never been without an employee nap room at their headquarters. A company spokesperson said, “It was born from our focus on employee happiness and wellness. We know how much sleep impacts well-being.” What’s in the nap room? A beanbag chair, a couch, a couple of recliners, and more, and it’s open all day and all night long to accommodate workers on all shifts.
Nike is another mega-corporation that is leading the way to more accommodation of sleep for its employees. Their corporate headquarters is located in Portland, Oregon, and is replete with rooms available for all kinds of quiet activities, ranging from meditation to naps, and Google has gone Nike one step farther by installing state-of-the-art nap pods that play music designed to optimize sleep and rest.
What do these companies get out of their efforts besides the appreciation of their drowsy employees? According to NASA, short sleep shifts during workdays can have a significant impact on performance and clarity of thought, and as a result they worked naps into astronauts’ schedules. There is even something called a “NASA nap” that has been adopted by airlines in order to ensure that their pilots are well rested. As more information is discovered by researchers about the benefits of naps for the workplace, it is expected that more companies will take a similar approach.