Could sleeping on the job be a good thing?

24 Sep

More large corporations are allowing employees afternoon naps to boost work productivity.

While it's usually frowned upon, sleeping on the job could be a good thing for employees and businesses. A 2015 University of Michigan study suggested napping at work can increase staff members' productivity, improve safety and minimize mistakes in the office. Participants in the study who slept for an hour during the day performed duties and tasks at a faster pace than those who didn't take a nap. 

Human resources departments in some of the nation's largest companies may soon try to deal with the sleep deprivation problem via employee engagement ideas by polling staff members about their sleeping habits and schedules.

Benefits to employees and businesses
Employees lacking an adequate amount of sleep can cost their employers not only via lower productivity levels but also through higher health insurance rates, according to The Washington Post. Many studies suggest there's a link between poor quality of sleep and conditions such as diabetes and dementia. 

Plus, enough rest also improves memory retention, according to CNN, citing a study performed by Nicolas Dumay, a psychologist with the University of Exeter and the Basque Center on Cognition Brain and Language.

"Sleep is good not just to maintain secured knowledge, but also to rescue weaker information, which we could not remember while still awake," Dumay told CNN. "The light here is on those inaccessible memories, which sleep makes suddenly more accessible."

The benefits have more supervisors and human resource departments either investing in or investigating nap rooms and sleeping pods for their employees. Tech giant Google offers its staff members a chance to get some shut-eye in its many nap pods found around its offices. The futuristic-looking chairs recline and include a large visor-like partition that features soothing sounds and an alarm to wake the employee, according to Entrepreneur.

A human resources matter
Besides Google, other companies such as Zappos, Nike and Ben and Jerry's allow staff members to sleep in on-site bedrooms in the office, reported. Many business are finding that allowing afternoon napping can be an added benefit for staff members as the work-life balance blurs. As employees remain connected to their jobs outside normal working hours through smartphones and laptops, highlighting the usefulness of a proper amount of sleep is imperative for human resources. It can also help staff members flying in between their companies' offices to get over jet lag before important meetings or other work events.

Truck driving and other industries that require employees to complete long shifts must abide by regulations splitting work hours up and mandating that staff get at least eight hours of sleep before starting their shift again. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, while sleep is currently a requirement for those professions that use heavy machinery, it could become necessary for office staff as well.

However, many companies outside of Silicon Valley or those that do not have a start-up culture in the office remain skeptical about allowing employees to sleep while on the job. Only 2 percent of businesses surveyed by SHRM reported having rooms designated for napping as a benefit for staff members. 

Those companies are missing out, some health experts say, noting businesses are willing to spend money on gyms and fitness centers to encourage employee wellness, but they stop at the point of offering areas to nap.

"I'm still surprised that people are put off by napping," Terry Cralle, a certified sleep expert told Entrepreneur. "We've got great research supporting the fact that naps can help corporations and employees, yet we still feel reluctant to make it an acceptable part of a healthy lifestyle and a healthy workday."

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