High quality sleep is a key pillar when it comes to performing optimally and athletes utilise sleep to get the edge. Usain Bolt was asked what he considered the most important part of his daily regime and he responded “sleep”. Bolts value for sleep is not unique in high performers, with Rodger Federer and Lebron James reporting sleeping between 11 to 12 hours per night.
Most people are not sleeping enough due to factors like working long hours, sleep disorders, social commitments and generally poor sleep hygiene. An estimated 7.4 million Australians are getting inadequate sleep, and this affects mood, performance, and long-term risk of chronic medical conditions. This has an economic cost of $45 billion annually and more than one Australian dies on our roads each day due to sleep deprivation.
Research suggests a power nap can help restore alertness, learning ability and reverse the damage of sleep deprivation. NASA found that a 40-minute nap is an effective tool against fatigue of flight crews and positive impacts on concentration and problem-solving tasks. Daytime napping has been cited throughout history as a benefit. Winston Churchill advocated for sleeping in the afternoon stating that it allowed him to borrow late night hours.
With sleep having a significant impact on mental, physical and social wellbeing the workplace has an opportunity to swap the 2 pm slump with a powernap and reap the benefits.
Workplace naps have been common practice in many cultures to re-energize people for the afternoon and evening. Countries where afternoon naps are common include:
Spain – The siesta is the most well-known afternoon sleep globally which helps people to work later and spend quality time with family and friends in an evening.
China – Many employers advocate a short nap after lunchtime to increase concentration in the afternoon dip.
Japan – Taking a nap at work in Japan is called “inemuri”, meaning sleeping while present. Japanese workers could nap on public transport or at their desk and is a sign of hard work.
More sleep is what people need to perform and thrive at work and at home. By making workplace naps of 20-30 minutes acceptable practice in Australian could be the missing ingredient to make for a more productive workforce and have a positive impact on mood, concentration and attention.