Should you let your employees take a nap at work?

Businesses often perceive sleeping on the job as a sign of laziness and in many cases, taking a nap is a big faux-pa within most offices. 

However, a number of studies have suggested that a short period of sleep during the day can have a positive effect on your workforce across a number of different areas. By adapting your HR policies, your employees may also reap the benefits of a quick dose of shut-eye.

Productivity gains may arise from daytime sleep

A recent University of Michigan study found that a nap during work can help improve the way workers handle their emotions. 

Employees returned to their work after a nap with a higher tolerance for frustrating tasks.

After a brief sleeping break, employees returned to their work with a higher tolerance for frustrating tasks and lowered likelihood of acting impulsively. In comparison to those who rested by watching a relaxing video, workers who slept were more likely to persist with a challenging puzzle. 

Allocating time to nap may help your firm see increases in staff engagement, as workers will likely feel more positive about completing difficult tasks. 

Napping linked to better learning outcomes

During periods of learning, sleep can be used alongside rewards to help solidify new facts and skills, according to researchers at the University of Geneva. 

"Rewards may act as a kind of tag, sealing information in the brain during learning," said Lead Researcher Dr Kinga Igloi.

"During sleep, that information is favourably consolidated over information associated with a low reward and is transferred to areas of the brain associated with long-term memory."

Taking a nap can help workers take in information.Taking a nap can help workers take in information.

This is a particularly important consideration during the onboarding process, as new recruits must take on a large amount of information in a short time frame. Allowing a break period to rest may help your trainees learn the ropes at a faster pace, thus increasing productivity. 

How can you implement this in your workplace?

Timing and duration are all important considerations when introducing sleeping breaks in your workplace. According to research from Flinders University, the most effective naps are between 10 and 20 minutes in length.

After 10 minutes, subjects showed immediate improvements, which lasted for 155 minutes on average. However, a nap lasting 30 minutes will hamper short-term productivity as workers will feel the effects of sleep inertia and wake up groggy. 

If you have the space to allow workers to sleep, consulting with HR specialists can be helpful in implementing sleep initiatives within your own office to maximise employee benefits.