Academic journal article Advances in Management

The Perfect Nap

Academic journal article Advances in Management

The Perfect Nap

Article excerpt


Shakespeare called -sleep" the chief nourisher of life's feast. But sleep is a rare commodity in stressed out America. Overachievers used to state loudly, "Lunch" is for the Losers and believed Sleep is for -Suckers". Additionally social culture glorifies sleeplessness. Encouraging a culture of sleepless is nonsensical and downright dangerous. The ultimate perk for the truly successful is now hours of sleep. Nearly two thirds of adults get fewer than eight hours of sleep at night according to the National Sleep Foundation, Washington, DC.

Sleep deprivation is not just an individual health hazard, it is a public one4. Sleepy workers are dangerous, less productive and a major source of increased health care costs and corporate liability. Studies of the workplace and transportation industries reveal that human error causes upto 90% of accidents, with inadequate sleep representing a major factor in human error (Time, 1990).

In the United States sleep deprivation is responsible for a fifth of all motor vehicle accidents and 8000 death annually. Estimates are that 80,000 drivers fall asleep at the wheel every day. Ten percent of them run off the road and every two minutes one of hemcrashes4. Sleepy employees experience potentially degrees of impairment, essentially comparable to that of substance abusers. National Transportation Safety Board estimates that out of 100,000 crashes there were fatalities and 71,000 injuries due to drivers who drifted off to sleep while driving. Higher rates of motor vehicle accident occur at night rather than during the day. Shift workers report an increased incidence of traffic accidents or near misses due to sleepiness on their commute home.

Sleep Deprivation is a huge issue in trucking industry where drivers are prone to going in and out of sleep while driving.

Disasters such as Three Mile Island, Bhopal and Exxon Valdez have all been associated with workers' suffering from lack of normal sleep. A Presidential Commission concluded that the crew who worked on the -Challenger Space Shuttle" was greatly sleep deprived and this accident may easily have been avoided if the crew had properly rested so as to not overlook any critical errors in the preparations of the shuttle mission.

Short Naps

A new approach to increasing productivity in the workplace is to allow employees to take naps. Taking naps during the workday has shown to increase the alertness of employees which leads to increased productivity. Despite this positive relationship many employers have been hesitant to allow employees to take naps. In fact less than one percent of companies allow employees to take a nap on the job. Taking a short nap in early afternoon has been practiced for ages in China, India, Italay, Greece, North Africa and Latin America. The idea originated from the fact that after eating a large meal, a chemical is released from the brain that makes one tired. Just 30-40 minutes was found to be necessary to refresh and recuperate. Born out of -Siesta Culture" and now supported by scientific research, a short nap has proven to improve alertness and mood.

Historically, napping while at work was considered taboo. Sleeping on the job got you labeled as lazy and incapable of doing your work. However, companies are finally starting to see the benefits of napping in the workplace. Numerous businesses have started implementing nap or relax rooms in their facilities for employees to -recharge" before their afternoon shift. Having trouble focusing because of sleep deprivation and exhaustion are problems that are extremely prevalent in today's society. Many people believe that they need to work around the clock to be productive, but this is not just true; however, not all naps are beneficial.

The perfect nap" is described as being 10-20 minutes in length. This is just enough time to improve alertness and leave you feeling energized without causing sleep inertia-the sensation of grogginess. …

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