Napping at work could help you be more productive

A new study extols the virtue of midday power naps for perking up the tetchy worker.

by Rachel Savage
Last Updated: 20 Aug 2015

People who put their head down for a cheeky powernap at the desk, or have perfected the fish-like art of dozing off eyes open, are probably already convinced sleeping in the middle of the day helps them perform at work. But now there is evidence that might convince sceptical bosses too.

Researchers at the University of Michigan looked at the effect of a midday snooze and concluded it boosted productivity and self-control. They randomly assigned hour-long naps or a period watching a nature video to the study’s 40 18-50 year-old participants and found those who had taken a kip were less impulsive and more willing to persevere with and finish a frustrating task.

‘Our results suggest that napping may be a beneficial intervention for individuals who may be required to remain awake for long periods of time by enhancing the ability to persevere through difficult or frustrating tasks,’ said Jennifer Goldschmied, the lead author of the study, which was published in journal Personality and Individual Differences.

‘May’ is an operative word here. The study would need repeating, and the assumptions tested in different situations, before anything definitive conclusions can be drawn. But it’s nonetheless something nap fanatics can take to their bosses when arguing for sleep pods at work (or, indeed, for permission to use them midday if you’re a lawyer eyeing up pods designed for poor souls pulling all-nighters).

It’s also another piece of evidence supporting less rigid ways of working, from stand-up meetings to flexible hours. And probably a good thing too, as long as over-zealous bosses don’t use sleeping areas as an excuse to keep their staff in the office day and night.

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