Napping: A trend for working adults

We are becoming more and more sleep deprived. A study completed by the National Sleep Foundation found that almost a third of workers admitted to falling asleep or becoming very tired on the job. Jeanne Geiger-Brown, director of the Work and Health Research Center at the University of Maryland’s School of Nursing, states: “Sleep is a biologically active process.  Your body has to have it. If you don’t give your body sleep, it’s going to find a way to take it.”

While naps are often associated with children, the elderly, and the sick, new research has proven that healthy adults too can benefit from an afternoon rest. Naps help to improve mood, alertness, and performance in the short-term.

Increasingly, companies involved in 24/7 industries are turning to sleep experts to help manage fatigue in the workplace. According to these experts, an optimal schedule for shift workers that require mental alertness can include a work-time nap.  Brown explains that “Industries are now beginning to look at fatigue as part of their risk-management plan. Some people think it’s silly to allow workers to sleep on the job. But it’s even sillier to have employees so impaired they can’t function.”

There are negative effects sometimes associated with napping, and it may not be for everyone. For example, naps can leave people with sleep inertia—that is, feelings of grogginess and disorientation that can come with awakening from a deep sleep. In addition, taking naps for too long, or taking them late in the day can have a negative impact on the quality of nighttime sleep.

If you do plan to catch some sleep during the day, here is some advice:

  • Short-naps (20-30 minutes) improve alertness and performance without interfering with nighttime sleep
  • Ensure that your surroundings will let you actually fall asleep. This means quiet, dark, and a comfortable temperature
  • Napping late in the day may affect your ability to fall asleep when nighttime comes around

**Most importantly, remember that a nap is no substitute for quality nighttime sleep.