My last post argued why most people reading this blog need more sleep and how to get it. A few days later, Tony Schwartz made a related case for naps. Research shows that naps improve performance, particularly for people who didn’t sleep enough the night before. For example:
In one study, subjects who had slept five to six the previous night were told to take naps of five, 10, 20 and 30 minutes. The five-minute nap didn’t have much impact. But the subjects who took 10-, 20- and 30-minute naps consistently improved their performance on cognitive tests of memory and vigilance conducted in the subsequent two and a half hours.
Schwartz has introduced energy practices into enough companies to know that “a vast percentage of employers don’t sanction naps.” So this is a difficult row to hoe. In fact, the opposition to napping is so woven into the cultural DNA of organizations that I wonder how much of an impact policy changes alone can make. For example, Google has nap pods, but how many employees actually use them, and how often?
Here’s why I’d like to see: top executives and high performing talent taking naps during the day and telling others that they did it and how it helped them. Not just once but over and over again over weeks and months. That’s when employees will start to take it seriously and take the risk of doing it themselves.