Thursday, 4 November 2010

Nap at work? Yes, since it seems it can effectively contribute to enhance productivity

According to the findings of different studies carried out by several researchers, it would seem that taking a nap at work bears fruit; 20 to 30 minutes, no more, will be in fact enough to boost productivity.

Some organisations have already implemented schemes inspired to this idea. Very recently, in fact, in the United States, staff at Nike have been allowed to access appositely dedicated relaxation rooms. In Pittsburgh, Deloitte & Touche has recently opened a siesta room to meet the requests of its 260 staff and in Kansas City architectural practice Gould Evans Goodman Associates has pitched three "spent tents" in a corner of its office, each of which is outfitted with air mattress, sleeping bag, foam pad, flannel pillow, Walkman, eye shades and alarm clock. Lowney & Associates, an engineering consultancy in Mountain View, California, has arranged a "quiet room" where employees can grab a pillow and a blanket and stretch out on the couch.
Is it just a matter of a whim? Apparently not really, it most likely seems a matter of strategy, instead. Napping is, in fact, supposed to stimulate brain activity.

In 2006 a feature in the Business Week invited its readers to “climb their career ladder sleeping”. An American consultant has even patented the concept of “Power nap”, at the very beginning it could seem something like a joke till you do not realise the benefits of having a siesta.

Research carried out by the NASA reveals that after a rest of 25 minutes astronauts perform much better and are much more alert. The same findings have been attained by many other scientific studies, which have all supported the idea that napping helps to increase staff performance, which is actually one of the objectives modern organisations are, in particular, trying hard to achieve.

Bruno Comby, health specialist, claims that having a nap helps people to be more effective and time saving, and that that should be why the busiest business men encourage its practice.

From the early Greek philosophers, through to creative geniuses such as Beethoven, Da Vinci, Dali and Einstein, napping has always been used as an effective technique to achieve better performance and results. Great leaders in times of War, such as Napoleon and Winston Churchill, were also known to have napped in order to help them dealing with their stress. It is actually a technique that has been employed by many US Presidents and UK Prime Ministers; including Margaret Thatcher, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

A strong supporter of “having a nap at work” practice is also the former French President Jacques Chirac, who, in the preface to the book “The praise of siesta”, suggests that taking a nap at work makes remarkably easier life and work of people who have made a habit of it.

In Paris some specialised centres have even been devoted to the practice of napping. In these peaceful places 20 minutes of relax are billed to companies’ managers between €15,00 and €20,00. Similar initiatives have also been implemented in Lyon (France) where 30 minutes of rest cost €15,00 if taken in group rooms and €20,00 if enjoyed in single rooms.

According to Bruno Comby the benefits of a micro-siesta can be appreciated everywhere and at any time, seated or laying down. What you just need to do is to lose your tie, undo the very first button of your shirt up, close your eyes, slow down your breath and the rhythm of thinking, relax your neck muscles, then those of your jaw, of your back, arms and legs and, bit by bit, the muscles of all your body.

After a bit of training some people are even able to sleep 20/25 minutes in front of their PC holding their head with hands.

"Power napping" has taken corporate America and Japan by storm. Workers are actively encouraged to take breaks in their day and have a nap; they are even invited to attend courses to learn how to do this. Today, napping is both considered a health trend and a workplace perk.

Tiredness costs on the annual activity of the United States has been evaluated by the National Commission on Sleep Disorders in several tens of billions dollars, so it might be worth to have a go.
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