Sleeping on the job: how a quick nap makes us more efficient

While working from home have you had a cheeky nap? Don’t feel guilty. Research shows a brief kip boosts productivity. But will it catch on in the office?

Naps need to hire a publicist. Not in China, where desk-side snoozes are a constitutional right; Japan, where inemuri (“sleeping while present”) is a sign you’ve been working hard; or Spain, where siestas are woven into the social fabric. But in the UK, US, Australia and many other western countries – where capitalist rat races are fuelled by flat whites and billable hours – naps have a major image problem. They’re linked with laziness and lethargy; with people who can’t be bothered to get through the day.

Yet now is the perfect time to rebrand them as something we associate with a productive lifestyle. Go for a run! Guzzle a green juice! Take a nap! With a large proportion of people working from home (it is estimated that half the UK workforce will still be doing so at the end of 2020), lots of us have more control than ever over what our working day looks like. Our boss overlords have been forced to loosen the reins. Aside from those awkward Zoom team check-ins we’re pretty much free to do as we please as long as we get our work done. Should we so desire, we can take a 20-minute kip after lunch and emerge pin-sharp for a busy afternoon. After all, the sofa is right there, beckoning us over to enjoy a moment of shut-eye.

There are signs people have already started slipping naps into their routines since working remotely. One survey of 2,000 Americans found 33% were napping daily, while another revealed 25% of Brits were doing the same. A social-media sweep I conducted agreed: from LA to Manila, countless professionals in fields including journalism, law and marketing confessed to enjoying a 20-minute zizz. (Personally, I’ve settled on 12 minutes as the ideal duration.)

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