Gettin’ zzz’s At Work! The Best Ways To Nap At Work

SUMMARY POINTS

> Stop late night media viewing and get 7-8 hours of solid sleep
> Eat lunch while working to save your lunch hour for napping
> Nap in your car, secluded office spots or nearby locations
> Limit your naps to 40 minutes max

It’s early afternoon.

You didn’t get much sleep last night and now, you’ve got a full stomach from lunch. You can feel the onset of food coma. You’re fighting hard to stay awake and alert.

The PowerPoint slide on the screen is fading in and out of fo-c--u---s.

Your eyelids are like heavy curtains closing down your vision and you’re losing the battle with gravity to keep your head up. Every little head nod only gives you a nanosecond of rest before you snap back to a semi-awake state and close your gaping mouth.

But, you’re drifting off again.

Your hands are resting on the keyboard like you’re “working” but you’re not fooling anyone. Then, as you drift off for a few seconds, your finger presses the “Z” button and fills the screen with rows and rows of the letter.

How appropriate, right?

You could really use some zzz’s now.

Oh if only you could sneak off into a secret little nook somewhere in the office and snooze for just a little while without anyone noticing. A little power nap could go a long way during these moments.

Just So Damn Tired

Is it any wonder we’re so damn exhausted? There’s so little time to relax and unwind, and when we do get five minutes, we can’t resist sneaking a peek at our smartphone.

After all, you can’t ignore your messages and you gotta update your social media to let people know you’re #exhausted.

Sleep deprivation can be a real pain-in-the-ass and can leave you feeling drained, unable to focus, slow to react and cranky as hell.

If only there was time for a short nap, but how are we supposed to find time for a snooze when there’s so much to pack in?

All Work and No Rest?

Working every hour of the day won’t score you any extra points if your output is shit.

Yes, your boss is looking out for employees who go the extra mile and work hard, but they don’t want overly-tired, miserable workers on their team either.

Tiredness can cause a lack of concentration, which could result in silly and stupid mistakes - not the best way to get that promotion!

A snooze can leave you feeling reinvigorated, refreshed and ready to view things from a whole new perspective.

But how do you find the time? And more importantly, where?

Here’s a little secret, you don’t need to drift off to the land of nod for hours on end – a short power nap could be the perfect cure for your drooling head nods.

The Power Of A Nap

Never underestimate the power of sleep – it can refresh your tired body and boost those brain cells.

Ideally you should be aiming for 7-8 hours each night, but we all know the reality.

Between binge watching TV and social media, it’s nearly impossible for us to peel our attention away so that we can get the quantity or quality of shut-eye needed.

This is when a “power nap” during the day could be just what the cubicle doctor ordered. But, there’s a right way and wrong way to power nap.

This quick 3-minute video from the folks over at Seeker explain the finer points of what we’re talking about.

VIDEO: How To Power Nap
YOUTUBE: Seeker
LENGTH: 2:57

Summary Points:
> Power naps are a magical thing like fairy dust
> Napping improves productivity, creativity and cognitive function
> Nap for shorter periods between 20-40 minutes long 

Countries That Embrace A Good Nap

The afternoon siesta is one of the best things to come out of Spain - apart from paella with sangria plus Enrique Iglesias and Penelope Cruz.

The siesta is a lunchtime snooze that usually follows a hearty meal. It’s the dedicated time to digest, rest and relax.

It’s not only for the Spaniards. If you head to Malta, the Philippines or Portugal you can expect businesses, shops and schools to shut their doors for a bit after lunch so they can do the same.

Visiting India, North Africa, Greece or China? It’s the same story there too - rest and relaxation is welcomed with open arms after lunch. 

Businesses That Pay You Sleep On The Job

Sounds incredibly unbelievable, right?

While some countries simply accept that the siesta as part of their culture, others go one step further and actively encourage employees to peacefully doze in the office.

In Japan, most all companies don’t frown on lunch-time desk napping. In fact, some are setting aside napping rooms.

Check out this 3-minute news segment.

VIDEO: Money Talks - Napping At Work
YOUTUBE: TRT World
LENGTH: 2:52

Summary Points:
> Napping can boost productivity in the afternoon
> Companies have received positive feedback (duh!)
> Fatigue from lack of sleep often leads to costly accidents

Beyond Japan, many companies in other Asian countries actually don’t mind that employees take a nap during their lunch. In fact, some actually encourage it as a way to restore energy and focus for the afternoon.

It’s not uncommon to see employees with their heads down at their desk during lunchtime.

Some forward-thinking companies here in the US recognize the benefits and are getting involved too.

The big G is one of them - yup, if you work at Google, it’s no problem getting forty winks in during work. Just find an open napping pod, crawl in and doze off.

The same goes for Huffington Post, Zappos, Uber and Ben & Jerry’s.

The last one is mandatory if you polish off any pint of their crazy delicious ice cream during lunch. Just thinking about it makes our ankles fat.

Okay, that’s fine and all but what about the rest of us working lackeys?

Can We REALLY Take a Nap at Work?

Yes, it can be done!

We’re not telling you to kick off your shoes, pull on a pair of pajamas and get cosy under your desk during normal working hours.

But, you can snooze at work if you are willing to do it on your own time.

And this doesn’t mean sneaking off to the bathroom. Afterall, who wants to get some shut eye in a shithouse anyway?

This is about slotting a mini-sleep into your working day at the appropriate time. This way, you avoid getting weird looks from your co-workers or a scowling stare from your boss.

The best and most legit way to do this is via your lunch hour.

This is your time - not the company’s. So, if anyone gives you any grief, give ‘em the finger and do your thing.

(Credit: Tony Bowden via Flickr)

Here’s our strategy on the post-lunch power nap: it’s gotta be slotted in during your lunch hour and when most others are out eating lunch to avoid issues.

Option 1 - Working Lunch Then Take A Nap (Our Recommendation)

This option is ideal for those of us that can’t fall asleep quickly and need a bit of transitional quiet time to ease into a nap.

We think this is the best way to nap at work.

Let’s say your normal lunchtime and for most others in the office is from 12:00pm to 1:00pm. This gives you a full hour to play with and plenty of time to get some shut eye.

From 11:30am to 12pm, munch your lunch at your desk while you’re working. By 12:00pm you should be ready for a well-deserved nap.

This is when you’ve got a full hour to take advantage of.

Here’s the breakdown:
11:30am - 12:00pm: munch your lunch while working
12:00pm - 1:00pm: this is your official 60 minute lunch hour
→ 15 minutes = transition into nap
→ 30 minutes = actual napping time
→ 15 minutes = transition out of nap

Adjust the times and nap duration to fit your preferences. But remember, limit your naps to 20-40 minutes. If you nap any longer, you’ll get all jacked up.

The great thing about this option is that your colleagues will think you’re a great multi-tasker and dedicated to your job. You’re eating a panini, replying to an email and listening to your phone messages.

Eating while you work gives you more time for relaxing during your “official” break and a bit of time to shake off the grogginess and freshen up afterwards before returning to your desk.

The key here is to have your lunch ready ahead of time. Meaning, you either pack your lunch and bring it to work or buy something in the morning on the way into work.

If you can’t or not willing to do either, then option #2 is your best bet.

Option 2 - Eat Lunch and Nap In 1 Hour

For those that can easily nod into sleep or prefer to eat out for lunch, this option is the most workable solution.

Using the same lunch hour as above (12:00pm - 1:00pm), you’re gonna squeeze in your eating and napping into one hour.

Here’s the breakdown:
12:00pm - 12:20pm: buy/eat lunch very close to work
12:20pm - 12:50pm: 30 minute napping time
12:50pm - 1:00pm: transition out of nap

The key tactic with this option is to find a lunch spot that’s within 5 minutes of your office and where the food is quick. If getting to the lunch place is more than 5 minutes away and/or the food is slow, it cuts into your nap time.

This option is the tougher one.

You have to squeeze everything into one hour: getting to the lunch place, eating, getting to your napping location, napping and then, waking up and getting back to your office/desk.

You’ll need to be speedy!

Where Can I Nap?

Not all companies have joined the workplace sleep revolution just yet. Nap rooms and sleep pods are a great idea, but unfortunately for the vast majority of us, they simply don’t exist in our offices.

But, we’ve got an angle for you to try out.

Meet With HR & Propose An “Idea” 

(Credit: Clay Watkins)

This won’t be easy, so if you can rally a few fellow co-workers, it will help a lot.

When several employees rally together for a unified voice to HR management, it gets their attention. If you do this solo, your request will most likely be put into the “Think About It” file which is also known as “Fuck It”.

As a team, develop and present the business case for designating an underutilized room or spare meeting room as a “quiet room” for employees to use for stress relief.

And that’s the key tactic. It’s for stress relief, which includes a variety of activities that use silence as a base foundation.

Trying to convince company execs to designate a room just for napping is too radical for most to accept and probably won’t get approved.

However, a multipurpose quiet room for stress relief would be far more reasonable. The room can be used for…

- Simple silence
- Meditation
- Solemn prayer
- Quiet reading
- Napping

You can find all sorts of research online to about the proven benefits of meditation or napping during the day.

There’s even some case studies like this one that show the benefits of napping at work, although we don’t recommend leading with this for the reason we mentioned above.

As you build your case, you need to include these key points:
- Improved employee productivity
- Higher company morale
- Cost-free employee benefit
- Reduced workplace accidents
- Healthier employees for reduced absence

If you and the troopers play your cards right, then you just might be able to pull off one of the greatest workplace requests of all time. The other being telecommuting or working from home - that one’s the holy grail.

If you’ve got an insider within HR, try to get their advice on your proposal ahead of time. If they think it won’t fly with upper management, ask for their advice on how it can or should be positioned for better consideration.

We think the meditation angle is the best approach to lead with. But, be sure to include napping as one of the proposed activities in the space.

There isn’t an HR organization today that hasn’t heard of mindfulness meditation and all the benefits it brings.

If this angle works, then the “meditation room” or “quiet room” can also function as a napping space. Score! 😉

Other Ideas:

If the HR proposals aren’t feasible for you, then you’ll have to take matters into your own hands.

But, you’re not alone.

Here are some of the places we’ve snoozed at before. One of these might work for you.

1. Empty Meeting Room 

Nearly every company has meeting rooms. And guess what? Nobody likes to have meetings during lunch, unless there’s free food being provided.

This is the one part of the business day where this high value office commodity isn’t occupied.

You could take over a small vacant meeting or conference room. If it’s sitting idle and you’re on your lunch break, it could be the perfect place to zone out and grab some shut eye.

Ideally, find a meeting room that has high-backed reclining chairs. It’d be more comfortable. Then, you can lean back and doze off.

Reserve the meeting room in the calendar as “Lunch Hour Meditation” and grab your work BFF to join in. It might be a little awkward at first but it’s worth having another person join in.

It validates and justifies the activity.

2. Outside On-Campus 

Think back to your old college days. On those perfect warm afternoons, maybe in between classes, you'd find that nice spot on the open lawn, use your backpack as an impromptu pillow and take a quick snooze under the warm sun.

Well, if your company has an actual campus of some kind, this option may work for you.

If the weather is cooperating, try exploring your office campus complex and finding a secluded spot away from the walk paths and parking lots. Maybe, even under a nice big tree for some shade.

You don’t need or want to attract gawkers, so be careful of the spot you pick.

You’ll need to bring something to lay on, like a picnic blanket. Keep it simple - leave the bougie bedding stuff at home.

However, if you feel weird about napping outside on company grounds, take it off-campus and try the next option.

3. Nearby Park

If you pack and bring your lunch to work, then this option is a really great choice, as long as Mother Nature is on your side.

First, do the “eating while working at your desk” thing.

Then, head to a local park that’s within a 5 minute walk or drive from your office. You’ll have 50 total minutes to lay out your picnic blanket and proceed to relax into a blissful nap.

Leave the final 5 minutes to get back to the office.

Some parks are quieter than others. It's best to avoid parks that are adjacent to schools and major roads. Both types can be fairly noisy. So, do some site checks ahead of time by eating lunch at the park. See how it is during lunch time.

4. In The Car

This is the perennial favorite and the go-to option for anyone that drives to work.

What’s not to like?

There's little risk to being caught napping in the office somewhere and being embarrassed.

It’s protected from the weather plus it’s got climate control, music and reclining seats. Set your ideal temperature, press play on your favorite soothing tunes or a meditation track, ease the seat back and drift into napdom.

Just a few little pointers:
- If it’s hot outside, park the car in a shady spot
- Get sunshades for the front windshield and side windows
- During colder months, do the opposite as above
- Park in a spot that’s farther away from the walkways
- Don’t run the engine if it’s parked indoors
- Get and use a blindfold and leave it in the car
- Use the alarm timer on your phone

If you’re still feeling a bit worried about co-workers spotting you in the car napping, then drive to another location close by - either a park, another office parking lot, etc.

5. Mall Reclining Massagers

(Credit: Yelp)

If you have a large shopping mall that’s really close to work, this is a really good option, especially for those that typically don’t pack lunch but prefer to buy it instead.

There’s always a food court in these malls. While the quality may not be the best, there’s usually at least one palatable option that can work for you.

After eating, walk over to one of those reclining massage chairs. You know, the ones you pay for. For most, you don’t even have to pay anything. Just plop down and start snoozing.

But, if you can spare a few bucks, oh man - it’s awesome. It’s the *perfect* way to start a nap.

What we like about this option is that there’s less risk of being spotted by other co-workers. And even if you were spotted, it’s totally fine because other people are doing the exact same thing.

Plus, no matter what the weather’s like outside, it’s always perfect inside the mall.

If you do the pre-lunch eating routine, you can really maximize the relaxation time.

6. Hotel Lobby Area

You’d have no problem with this one.

Traveling business people are tired people. It’s very common to see business people both working and dozing in hotel lobbies, particularly at the major national chains.

Go scope out a few that are close to your office and see what they’ve got in the lobby. The better ones will have big lounge chairs and wide comfortable sofas.

Here's an important point - sign up and become a member of the hotel chain, if you're not already a member. They're all free to join. This way, you're not just some random schmuck but a registered customer.

Then, as you rest in their lobby from time to time, it won't be so awkward. Just let them know that you’re “resting before an afternoon meeting.” The staff will understand.

In fact, introduce yourself and get to know the staff. As long as you're not loitering in there like some smelly hobo, they'll be fine with it. Hell, they might even offer you some bottled water or light snacks. 

7. Local Library

There’s a good chance that there’s a local library near your office. Go visit one during lunch and see what their lounge areas are like.

If you’re really lucky, they’ve got soft comfy chairs (huge bonus for ottomans) like the ones in the above photo. These solo seats are the best because you've got a space all to yourself versus the shared couch or communal table.

Most libraries frown upon eating and drinking inside. So, be sure to munch your lunch beforehand.

Go Get Your Zzz’s On!

It’s time to stop fighting the afternoon head nods.

If you really can’t get a solid sleep at night, then experiment with the lunch hour strategies combined with napping locations. There’ll be one combination set-up that will work for you.

When you’ve got the process all dialed-in, you’ll be a master of the post-lunch nap. Say adios to draggin’ ass and hello to kickin’ ass.

Feel Better,
[Cubicle|Therapy]