Sleeping at Work is Actually a Good Thing?

A new study outlined in a BBC story this week points to the productivity benefits of a siesta during the day.  Researchers at the University of California in Berkeley gave a group of 39 study participants a task in the morning that was hard to learn.  Results were relatively uniform among the members of the group.  At midday, about half of the participants were allowed to take a 90-minute nap.  When the members of the group were given the same task to do in the afternoon, the nappers outperformed the non-nappers.

Dr Matthew Walker, who led the study, reported at the AAAS conference in San Diego, said: “Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness, but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap.

“It’s as though the e-mail inbox in your hippocampus is full, and, until you sleep and clear out all those fact e-mails, you’re not going to receive any more mail.

“It’s just going to bounce until you sleep and move it into another folder.”

In some parts of the world, rest time at midday is normal.  For those who live in the rest of the world, however, this presents a problem — we are at work in the middle of the day and it’s hard to imagine successfully pitching to the boss the idea of a nap after lunch.  The Guru Blog at Personnel Today, an HR publication, confirms that it’s not likely to happen…

Up until now, numerous pieces of research and experiments have suggested that having a quick siesta during the day can be beneficial. But an hour-and-a-half seems a bit excessive; that’s not really a nap, is it? Guru can’t imagine many HR departments sanctioning a post lunch 90 minute snooze for their workforce.

So, until all of us are working for ourselves from home … productivity will just have to suffer!

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