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Is it Nap-Time Yet? Sleeping on the Job… FOR the Job

By September 7, 2009Wellbeing for You

“Is it nap-time yet?” The question popped in my head, right in the middle of my afternoon client meeting. What rotten timing.

Once the meeting was done, I analyzed today’s energy plunge: “Did I forget to exercise?” (No, I hiked for an hour this morning.) “Did I get enough sleep last night?” (7 hours seemed like enough, but I did wake up a bit crabby.) “Did I eat too much for lunch?” (OK, there was that third piece of dark chocolate.) Before I got to the bottom of it, the more urgent voice in my head (urgent between yawns) asked again: “Is it nap time yet?”

Apparently, I’m not the only one asking this question. A July study by Pew Research revealed that one third of adults are napping daily. In higher income brackets of $100,000+ it’s the same number: 33% are napping on both weekends AND weekdays.

Who knew? All those folks napping while the rest of us yawn through our spreadsheets and conference calls… I get it! So should I nap only when I become tired, or can I proactively use this as a tool for improved performance? NASA’s wisdom suggests that strategic naps can boost work performance by a whopping 34%. The right amount of dozing — what the NASA research determined was a 40 minute tactical snooze — can help you clear your mind, integrate new information, and bring a fresh point of view to that challenge you’re noodling.

I hear your protests already: “Get real, Rip Van Winkle! Who can sneak a 40 minute nap in their day?” NASA’s got you covered: they say a mere 26-minute nap provides the “stage 2” depth of sleep required for positive jumps in alertness and motor skills. They should know: if you think your quarterly financial review meetings are long, try a flight to the moon.

So, instead of nodding off by accident during your next meeting, experiment with taking a power nap ahead of time. It may seem impossible to schedule at first; but strategic napping is as easy to plan as any other item on your list. I find a catnap works best for me mid-afternoon, when my energy hits a natural lull (and my mind and body seem to follow). Usually I wake up feeling like it’s a brand new day, my focus and get-up-and-go restored.

Feeling guilty snoozing while your coworkers and clients are active? Remember, this isn’t wasteful: good sleep patterns, including tactical napping, are simply more tools in your leadership kit. Smart leaders know that if you manage your energy and plan both your up-time and your down-time, you’ll reap the benefits of improved health and productivity. Trust a sound afternoon cat-napper on this. (Now where was my blue blankie?)

Photo by DavidDennisPhotos.com