After changing jobs and starting work two hours earlier, Evan was nodding off by early afternoon. It was then he discovered the power nap. Evan slipped into his car everyday after lunch and for 15 – 20 minutes he took a restorative nap. This left him alert, happy and energized for the rest of the afternoon.
Sleep science tells us that Evan’s power nap decreased his stress, increased his stamina, improved his concentration and sharpened his memory. All of these benefits mean more productivity for his employer.
What was the down side? Evan had to rest in his car. Yes, a vehicle is a comfortable place to take a quick nap. For some industries such as transportation and utilities, it may be preferable. For other businesses there are ways to support napping in the workplace. Start by learning more about your employees and their sleep habits.
A wellness needs and interest survey can provide you with a snapshot of the sleep health of your employee population. This will indicate whether adult employees are getting the seven to nine hours of sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 35 percent of American adults are not getting the minimum of seven hours.
You can set a goal to create a supportive work environment that allows employees to manage their sleep habits. Next institute policies, environmental supports, behavior change programs, education and awareness strategies. Consider some of these examples:
- Establish work-scheduling policies that support rest and/or nap breaks (e.g. Ben and Jerry’s, Zappos and The Huffington Post all have nap rooms)
- Develop shift policies that support optimal shift length
- Provide a dedicated, furnished, quiet space where employees can nap and develop procedures for its use
- Specify predictable, consistent shifts to prevent sleep interruptions from continuous rotating shifts.
- Offer profession-specific training and skills classes on obtaining sufficient sleep (e.g. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health training for nurses)
- Provide health coaching on sleep hygiene, the behavioral practices you put into place to ensure optimal nighttime sleep
- Educate employees on the impact of food choices, tobacco use and exercise on sleep through written or online communications
- Promote community resources to support optimal sleep habits including local sleep centers and sleep medicine specialists
- Provide links to online tools and resources to help employees assess and improve sleep habits (e.g. sleep.org)
There are many ways to help employees like Evan manage their sleep habits and maintain high levels of productivity at work. For more information about how you can support your employees see our Working on Wellness Sleep Goal and Objectives Document. It provides a sleep goal, objectives and interventions for use in your wellness initiative.