Naps are productive

Last night did not go as intended. I got into bed on time in my hotel room in Houston (not pictured; the photo on this post is from a beach rental in 2017!). I slept for about 3 hours. Then the congestion from this nasty cold I somehow picked up kicked in and I lay awake for most of the next 2.5 hours. I slept for an hour before popping awake again about 30 minutes before my alarm (set early so I could get to the airport on time).

What should have been a night featuring 7 hours of sleep had turned into a disjointed night of 4 hours. Fortunately, my plane was a little early. So after I got home and got lunch, I used the window I had before a call to climb into bed and nap for 30 minutes.

When I woke up, I felt far more functional. I was able to do my call, write a few things I needed to write, and even go for my standard 3-mile afternoon run.

I’m quite sure that I would have felt less able to tackle those tasks had I spent those 30 minutes doing something that looked more like work: answering emails, starting on my writing projects. Thus, taking a nap was far more productive for me than these things that meet a more traditional definition of productivity.

Yet there is still a huge stigma about taking naps during the work day. Sure, some hip companies have nap pods, but in far more workplaces, naps must be snuck in, behind closed doors, as if something transgressive is taking place.

But it’s all about managing energy. Just as going outside for 20 minutes is more energizing than deleting emails (and getting distracted by Twitter in the process), taking a quick nap can be a way to keep going for the rest of the day. It’s much like grabbing a cup of coffee. So here’s to learning to see it that way.

If you work in an office, have you ever napped during the work day?




12 thoughts on “Naps are productive

  1. I often took naps when I was pregnant on my office floor – it was impossible not to! Since then I have on a few occasions closed my office door and had a 15 minute lie down – not napping per se, but just ‘resting’. It revived me enough to continue on with my day in a functional way rather than feeling distracted by my fatigue.

  2. Ooh, I guess my cancellation was well-timed!
    If I worked from home I’d probably be addicted to naps. Probably good that I don’t 🙂

    1. @SHU- very well timed! Naps are a major perk of working from home. I don’t take them frequently, but when I need them, I’m really glad it’s a possibility!

  3. Do you think taking naps after work can also be a good thing? My fiancee is always extremely tired when he comes home, but I can’t say that 30 min naps after work energize him at all… Perhaps it’s better to wait until a bedtime and then get all your sleep in one go?

    1. @Laura – I do think that late in the day sleep (like 6 p.m. post work) is probably more questionable – then you’re starting to get into night-time sleep mode. He might be better off going to bed earlier, or doing something else post work (like a workout?) that might energize him. I think for most people the point in the sleep cycle where fatigue hits tends to be the middle – which is when naps do the most good. If you wake up at 6 a.m. and go to bed at 10 p.m., the middle is 2 p.m. — which is about when the nap seems most called for.

  4. Yes, definitely. Regularly, even, during my first trimester. I deliberately kept my early afternoons meeting free so I would have the option to nap during the time of day that my energy was typically lowest. I have a couch in my office, and I would just close the door. The afternoon nap gave me enough energy to make it through the day, and put in extra time at the end to compensate for the nap. Even though I was napping daily, I wasn’t falling behind at work.

    In talking with my female co-workers who don’t have offices, multiple have told me that, while pregnant, they would go down to the health unit and nap in cots there.

  5. No, never napped in the office, intentionally (though I’ve nodded off at my desk on rare occasions). On my work from home days, I absolutely have been taking short naps if I’m feeling drowsy and going outside is unappealing (rainy/freezing) and it really does help the afternoon and evening go more smoothly.

  6. I really hate naps, but while pregnant I would sometimes nap sitting up at my desk for 15 minutes. If you can fall alseep almost instantly while sitting up, it seems like the body is screaming for a break!

  7. In my twenties I worked in a laboratory with a sofa bed that parents could use to stay overnight when their babies were being monitored in the sleep lab next door. Back then there was a lot more late night socialising in my life, so it was bliss to sometimes lock the door and curl up for a nap after lunch. I never included the naps as work time and would stay later to make up for it, but it definitely boosted my productivity for the rest of the day! I only stayed for a year, work-based napping has never been so easy since. Once when I was pregnant I fell asleep on the floor under a desk and pretended to have been looking for a pen I dropped when someone walked in! The last nap I took was on a long train ride, I dropped off listening to “Why we sleep” on Audible 😊 Loads of interesting sleep insights in that book.

  8. It’s so interesting reading through the comments: several mentioned napping when pregnant! I’m 24 weeks pregnant and just took a nap this afternoon while working from home. Never had to before pregnancy. Agreed just a 20 mins nap would help so much!

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