Which of these companies do you think allow their employees to sleep on the job?

Google? Huffington Post? Ben & Jerry’s? Nike? Cisco? Zappos? Pizza Hut? Uber? Samsung? NASA?

The answer is ALL OF THEM! And not only do they allow it, they positively encourage it… what do they know about health and wellness at work that we all can learn from?

Sleep has had an image problem in the business world, but many firms are now investing in a better rested workforce as they are recognizing that it delivers happier, healthier, and more productive employees. Some of the most successful companies in the world have decided to make health and wellness at work a priority. Arianna Huffington says in her book ‘Thrive’, “Increasingly, companies are realizing that their employees’ health is one of the most important predictors of the company’s health as well.” She has championed sleep and rest for leaders and employees since herself collapsing from exhaustion more than 10 years ago.

While the nap pods at Google and the nap rooms at Uber may be relatively new initiatives, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has always believed in the power of naps, so cots, pods and couches have always been available to his employees. A certain Vermont-based ice cream company was also one of the earliest adopters of a ‘sleeping on the job’ program…

It was NASA’s “sleeping on the job” study in the 1990s that discovered just 26 minutes of sleep improved cognitive performance by 34% and alertness by 54%. Further studies have continued to show that an afternoon nap has the power to boost concentration, recharge energy, reduce depression and anxiety, and boost our memory and information retention fivefold. Who wouldn’t want these benefits in their workplace?

As we shift our attention to working ‘smarter’ rather than harder, sleeping on the job in the form of napping is beginning to be seen as delivering a competitive advantage. More businesses are allowing their employees to rest when they need it, as that short afternoon nap has a positive effect on attention, vigilance, mood and alertness, so not only enhancing work performance but also reducing mistakes and accidents.

What exactly is required to make this work?

How To Nap For Best Results :

* Don’t nap for too long. Both NASA and the Sleep Foundation warn that napping for more than half an hour can lead to sleep inertia, (that groggy feeling that comes after too deep a sleep).

* Nap at the right time. The best time to nap is 1-3pm, when we are naturally sleepy. Waiting until later risks disrupting your night-time sleeping routine.

* Nap in a right place. Try to find a quiet, low-lit place to nap, as this will make it easier to nod off.

How To Become A Nap Friendly Workplace :

* Raise awareness. The importance of sleep is not well understood but is essential to health and wellness at work… one in three employees reports not getting enough sleep and 20% report feeling sleepy during their workday. Gather some stats about your employees and share some basic sleep education and how to “hack” sleep tips.

* Understand that ‘permission’ and ‘provision’ for napping has symbolic as well as practical value. It signals that the nap room (for example) is part of a wider strategy, designed to show employees they’re appreciated. 

* Realize your napping solution doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive. Employers do need to create a sanctuary where it’s acceptable, intended and encouraged to rest and recharge, however, it can be as low-tech as a yoga mat on the floor or a recliner in an unused corner of the office. Other items worth considering are : headsets to play soothing music, relaxation apps, blackout curtains and/or sleep masks to ensure darkness.

So there’s a very good reason some of the most successful companies on the planet give their employees a place to take a nap! Encouraging employees to get the rest they need and making sure they understand the links between sleep and wellness is good for staff AND great for business.

Eloops can help you with your health and wellness at work initiatives through a range of tools & content designed to enhance your employees’ experience.

Happy napping!

PS You will be in good company; Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Napoleon, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison and George W. Bush are all known to have valued an afternoon nap. 

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