When your boss comes to you and tells you to take a nap every day at work, you don't ask any questions. My task was to take a 30-minute nap during the work day for five days in a row and to see how it affected me. Did I feel more energized? Tired? Did the naps increase my productivity or decrease it? How did I feel overall? You get the picture.
Armed with a pillow and a cellphone for an alarm clock, I went to our office's nap room (it has a day bed and a sound machine and a thing that projects stars on the ceiling and everything!) to see what I could find out about taking a snoozer midday.
My results were more than a little unexpected.
Let me start by saying that I am a fantastic napper. I can fall asleep anytime, anywhere. Flight from NY to Orlando in a middle seat flanked in every direction by kids hyped up about Disney World? No problem; I'll sleep like a baby with my head on my tray table. Long line in the grocery store? No better time for quick stand-up cat-nap. Kinda sleepy at my desk? I'll just get a little shut-eye while type-type-typing away. So the falling asleep wasn't going to be an issue, I knew that going into it.
Or so I thought. When you're forced to take a nap, it's a different story -- the anxiety about fitting a nap into your day pumps enough apprehension through your veins to keep even the sleepiest newborn awake. I've got a busy day here, people! I can't just lie down for half an hour! But into the nap room I went, sweating the work I was leaving behind, wondering how late I'd have to stay just so I could close my eyes for half an hour.
So here's what I found. On productivity: I found I worked faster, but not because I was well-rested or felt refreshed from the nap. I worked faster because I knew I had to take a break, and I wanted to get as much done before said break. Had I been forced to walk around the block for 30 minutes, or watch a sit-com, or go return a dress at a nearby store, I think I would've had the same results.
I fell asleep each nap attempt, but only for about 10 minutes. The first 20 or so I spent trying to clear my mind and relax. That, however, was disrupted by my stomach. I'd lie down every day after lunch, and man alive, did my stomach make some loud noises. It was working so hard to digest! Under normal circumstances, I can't hear it because of all the noise in the office, but in a quiet room? Yikes. It sounded like my stomach was trying to break down a block of metal or something. (Perhaps I had swallowed my fork while wolfing down my salad?)
Overall, the 30-minute napperoos were less rejuvenating than they were stressful. They broke up the flow of my work so much that when I tried to resume after my rest, I felt groggy and kind of unmotivated. It was nice to not be sitting and staring at a computer for 30 minutes -- that felt like I was doing something good for my body -- but other than that, I would say that napping for 30 minutes a day was a fail.
However, through the process, I think I discovered an intolerance to lactose. My stomach's never felt better now that I've eliminated that mound of goat cheese I used to have for lunch on my salad. All's quiet on the mid-section front.
Bottom line: If your boss comes to you and tells you to take a nap at work, maybe ask a few questions or two. And lay off the dairy.
What are your thoughts on napping at work?
Photo via Dirlei Dionisio/Flickr