Reenergize employee productivity with a company nap room

April 5, 20173 Minute Read

Our workforce is made up of chronically sleep-deprived employees, with insomnia costing a whopping CAD$82 billion a year in lost productivity. The antidote? An afternoon nap, preferably in a company nap room.

While the recommended night’s rest should equate to a solid seven to nine hours of shut-eye, according to the National Sleep Foundation, as many as one in five adults exhibit chronic sleep deprivation. The problems associated with lack of sleep go beyond the occasional yawn during a conversation or meeting: The Virgin Pulse Institute found that 40 percent of employees admitted to nodding off during the workday once a month, likely because they didn’t have access to a nap room.

Canada loses 80,000 working days a year due to sleep deprivation. Even when workers make it into the workplace and manage to keep their eyes open, chronically sleep-deprived employees are responsible for a host of productivity killers—from increased distraction to poor communication. Additionally, a report in EHS Today says, “22 hours of sleep deprivation results in neurobehavioural performance impairments.”

Regardless of whether the worker is prone to snoring, it’s a challenge for some to nod off at their desks—even if their heads are wrapped inside a light-and-noise dampening Ostrich Pillow. That’s why a raft of companies are installing nap rooms to encourage sleeping on the job.

The proven perks of snoozing

San Francisco startup NerdWallet provides nap rooms for employees to reserve for sanctioned snoozing, much like they’d slot time in a conference room for a meeting. Google’s Kirkland campus features nap caves for any of the more than 1,000 employees on site who need to recharge.

And even though the Huffington Post is a demanding place to work, its founder, Arianna Huffington, touts the benefits of napping and installed a company nap room. Huffington’s collapse from chronic exhaustion in 2007 turned her into a champion of proper rest. She chronicles this in her latest book, The Sleep Revolution, and said in an interview, “Having a nap in the middle of the afternoon is actually a performance-enhancing tool.”

The benefits of catching some zzz’s during the workday are well documented. Scientific experiments surrounding siestas prove that a short snooze can boost memory along with alertness, as well as reduce errors. An oft-cited study by NASA showed that pilots who took a sleep break were able to react more quickly in response to various situations, resulting in a 34 percent performance increase.

Research also shows that a midday nap can positively impact emotional control. Nappers in one study reported they felt less frustrated and better able to resist impulses, while another study documented the jump in creativity among nappers who’d slept longer and entered the REM phase. When asked to come up with creative associations, the group showed a 40 percent improvement.

Slumbering spaces are a matter of culture

At WeWork’s coworking spaces, nap rooms are up for discussion. But in China, where workers are used to dropping their cheek to the desk to catch a quick nap, WeWork ran up against a wall. Designers of the company’s new space in Shanghai recommended a nap room, but the company declined because Shanghai culture dictates that sleeping somewhere other than right at your desk is too unusual.

But some companies are working to change that. For example, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ newest offices in Basel have nap pods. “A lot of companies are realizing that good performance needs a balance of healthy eating, resting, and focusing,” says Stefan Camenzind, CEO of Evolution Design, the Swiss firm responsible for PwC’s office design. “Most people are told that the harder you work, the longer you work, the better it is,”Camenzind told Inc., “That’s not sustainable, and that’s probably also not true. It’s about smart working, and that means you need to recharge. In this context, nap rooms become more and more important.”

Huffington agrees—and believes nap rooms will be “as common as conference rooms” in the next two years. Is it time you looked into a healthy sleep initiative for your company? If your employees are searching for that extra boost, this may be just the answer you seek.

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