Sleeping on the Job

Source: Pixabay

By: Marie Donlon

Employers are beginning to recognize the value of sleep, if recent trends in employers offering a designated office napping space are any indication.

With a good night sleep being defined by experts as being between seven and nine hours a night and with most American adults sleeping an average of six hours and 31 minutes a night, it is clear that we are not getting the amount of sleep we need.

“There’s a Gallup poll from 1942 that demonstrated that the average adult was sleeping 7.9 hours, so I think there’s been a remarkable lopping off of sleep time,” says Matthew Walker, neuroscientist and author of Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams.

There are a variety of reasons for this loss of sleep. Among them: demanding work schedules and lengthy commutes.

“Longer commute times and longer hours are squeezing sleep almost like vice grips,” Walker adds.

However, recognizing that a lack of sleep can both affect the health of its employees and prove costly in terms of mistakes made by tired employees, more and more companies are offering designated nap areas where employees can rest up.

According to Rita Aouad, psychiatrist and sleep specialist at Ohio State University: “Lots of research shows that a nap of about 20 minutes in the afternoon has a positive effect on attention, vigilance, mood and alertness.”

Joining the trend are companies like Google with its sleep pods for employees, Ben and Jerry’s, and Nike, who additionally offers flex-time suited to employee’s internal clocks. For instance, if the employee is by nature a morning person, they are likely to work a morning schedule while night owls might begin their shift later in the day.

“Morning types are celebrated and deemed more worthy because they are in the office earlier,” says Walker. “Evening types are usually penalized because they come in late, but they could work late. Companies are starting to understand that it’s nobody’s fault – it’s genetic.”

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