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September 30, 2004

Nap at Work

It’s 3 p.m. Your eyes glaze over, and your brain seems to melt every word and number you read down to virtually meaningless characters. You wipe your eyes, hold up your head with an arm or two and silently pray for the workday to end.

We need a nap, something most of us left behind with kindergarten. But why? What happened between our single-digit and double-digit ages that made napping taboo?

Wouldn’t it be neat if we could just schedule a nap break during the day? Close down the shades, schedule it in Outlook -- even get the receptionist to stop taking calls, just for a half hour or so. In European countries like Spain, such midday naps (siestas) are normal. Where I grew up, businesses would actually close for a couple hours during weekday afternoons.

Sound funny, eh? Well, it just might be serious business. According to a 2003 report by the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, drowsiness on the job costs US businesses $18 billion a year in lost productivity. And we’re not just talking money. About.com says not napping can cost increased errors, accidents, absenteeism, drug use and turnover, as well as higher group insurance premiums and decreased productivity. And yet, according to the Wall Street Journal Online, employers punish employees who nap at work -- even when they are on break.

If napping would improve our productivity and positively affect the bottom line (not to mention our work-life balance), then why the heck aren’t we doing it? Naturally, this question breeds many others: How much of a nap is a good nap? How should these naps get organized? Where should people nap? What if people don’t want to nap? And in what jobs would napping be OK? We know we wouldn’t want our pilots or our surgeons napping while they work, but what about us cubicle dwellers? Why can’t we get some rest?

While these questions may be tough, they’re workable. But until we do have a designated naptime, I think I’ll have to rely on tricking my body into staying awake through my slump.

P.S. If you live in the New York City area and don’t mind paying for your naps, you can retreat to a MetroNaps, where you can buy some time in a “pod” during your lunch break.

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Posted by Maya on September 30, 2004 at 01:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)


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I live for power naps... usually 6-9 minutes, but in a pinch 3 minutes... I can grab these after lunch sitting in my car outside the office (unseen by management) or othertimes at my desk.

Set the ol' cell phone alarm (with vibe on) and I never oversleep. Then I'm wide awake and ready for the rest of the afternoon.

I'm one of those with a lengthy commute, and when the need hits, I pull off and grab a nap and I am good to go!

Posted by: Charlie on the Pennsylvania Turnpike | Sep 30, 2004 3:38:25 PM

I listened to at least two lectures from Muslim scholars on the sleeping habits of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). They also explained the sleeping habbits of Muslims in Islamic History (our good ol' days, not this pathetic age) (and that's where Spanish "siesta" comes from, 800 years of Islamic Spain).

So yeah, as far as I remember, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would wake up for the early morning prayer (Fajr) (around 5-6AM), then not go to sleep, he'd do whatever work he had to do. Then he'd pray "Zuhr" (1:30PMish), go to sleep, wake up at 'Asr prayer time (3PMish) then continue the rest of the day. He'd often stay up late praying.

Muslims, back when we had our heads on straight, used to try to implement this. An average day at work would start very early in the morning (I'd imagine 6AM/7AM) then work till zuhr, then go home for hte day.

I tried this in college when schedules were more flexible, and it worked great.

Shaykh Hussain Abdul Sattar's talk on this subject (He's also a medical doctor, when to some univ in chicago):


Ustadh Muhammad AlShareef's talk on this subject, I can't find the URL, but you could probably ask somebody on http://forums.almaghrib.org

Posted by: Amir Memon | Nov 6, 2006 6:16:20 PM

I was once told the great way to take a nap is to do so with something in your hand (cell phone, keys, whatever). Just when your body relaxes enough to the point at which you have napped long enough, your hand will relax and the object will fall out of it. This is usually a sufficient enough "interruption" so as to wake up. I've been using this technique for a couple years now and it works great!

Posted by: Mike | Feb 14, 2007 5:18:02 PM

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