Working from home has brought me something I’ve always wanted. Around noon during the workweek, I often allow myself to put down my laptop, dim the blinds and recline on my couch with my eyes closed. Sometimes I fall asleep; other times I think I haven’t, only to awake 30 minutes later with a small pool of drool on my pillow.
Back when we were working in an office, my workplace had a solid set of perks, an endless supply of Clif Bars and string cheese chief among them. But what I always desired was the ability to take a nap.
Some particularly hip and cushy offices like Google’s have indeed offered this, with designated “nap pods” offering comfort and privacy for a quick rest. It’s unclear, though, if anyone actually used them: Who wants to be the person caught sleeping at a job that a hundred people might be looking to snatch?
Regardless, the logic behind naps at work is sound. While average sleep times vary widely from state to state, between 30 to 45 percent of people sleep for less than the recommended seven hours each night. That lack of sleep is correlated with a host of health issues, including obesity, depression, diabetes and arthritis. Of course, a 20-minute nap won’t reverse the ill effects of running on four hours a night, but it won’t hurt, either. According to the Sleep Foundation, 20- to 30-minute naps can have a dramatic impact on mood, alertness and job performance. Case in point: In a 1995 study from NASA, alertness and performance increased by 54 and 43 percent respectively among military pilots who napped for around 26 minutes.
There are few jobs where staying mentally sharp is of as much consequence as that of a pilot, but anyone can benefit from the little boost of a nap just the same. If nothing else, we all deserve to break up the monotony of working from our couch or bed by using these furnishings for their intended purpose. Particularly now that it’s clear we’ll likely be working this way for the foreseeable future, regular, brief naps almost feel like an earned “perk” of our new office.
I personally have few moments where I feel as though I’m completely off-the-clock, even if I’m just looking at Twitter at 9 p.m. I eat my lunch with my laptop in front of me, and check my emails while re-watching Lost on a Saturday. Sleep offers a precious opportunity to unplug and reset. Even if I can only chalk it up as a mini-luxury, I don’t feel bad about it. So if you can find a moment of quiet to close your eyes during the workday, you shouldn’t feel bad about it, either.