Sunday, February 05, 2012
When Sara Mednick, a former Harvard researcher, gave her subjects a memory challenge, she let half of them to take a 60 to 90 minute nap. The nappers dramatically outperformed the non-nappers. In another study, Mednick had subjects practice a visual task at four intervals over the course of a day. Those who took a 30 minute nap after the second session sustained their performance all day long. Those who didn't nap performed increasingly poorly as the day wore on.
When pilots are given a nap of just 30 minutes on long haul flights, they experience a 16 percent improvement in their reaction time. Non-napping pilots experience a 34 per cent decrease during the course of the flights.
The conclusion is inescapable: the more hours we work continuously, the greater the toll on our performance.
The best time for a nap is between 1pm and 3 pm, when the body most craves a period of sleep. The ideal length for a workplace nap is 30 minutes or less, which assures that you won't fall into the deeper stages of sleep, and awake with that loopy feeling scientists call "sleep inertia."
If encouraging employees to take a half hour nap means they can be two or three times as productive over the subsequent three hours in the afternoon — and far more emotionally resilient — why don’t more companies do it? There is the odd example here and there including Google, which provides napping pods and renewal rooms. That's a good first step, but it's scarcely the norm.
I would be interested in hearing from anyone that has worked in an organisation that is encouraging post lunch napping (besides the House of Lords) in the name of better performance. And/or whether you’ve practised napping yourself and what impact that has had on your performance?
And if you’ve yet to try it in a work setting and you want to, please let me know what happens – to your own productivity and creativity levels – and your working relationships with your colleagues!
Posted by Editor at 1:56 p.m.