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Falling asleep on the job: why it could be good for you

Why an office nap on the company's time could improve work-rate

Over two-thirds of office workers say their working day would be enormously improved if they were allowed to take a nap during working hours. 

In a phenomenon that's already taken off in some parts of the world, office workers say that a snooze of around 30 minutes would be enough to shake off that afternoon lag and actually increase productivity. The UK-based AirConUK.co.uk company says that while nap-time is frowned upon in Britain by companies that – rightly – think their employees are only there to work, it's proved such a hit elsewhere that it should be given serious consideration.

"Ten thousand civil servants in South Korea can't all be wrong," says AirConUK.co.uk 's Jonathan Ratcliffe, "They're all allowed up to an hour asleep at their desks, as long as they put in a full working day to compensate."

In a poll of 1350 office workers carried out for AirConUK.co.uk:

86% said they had felt sleepy at work on more than one occasion

70% said they would like a nap at their desks, as long as they made the time up

23% thought that they shouldn't be allowed to sleep at work

5% said they already go somewhere for a sneaky sleep without their boss knowing

2% said they were already allowed a nap

One worker from an insurance company told AirConUK.co.uk: "I'm always wilting in the afternoons, especially towards the end of the week. Thirty minutes' of shut-eye would me do more good than a gallon of coffee."

Another administration worker said: "We asked for official nap-times but the bosses were totally opposed. All they thought about was what clients would think if they saw an office full of sleeping workers – they've got a point, I suppose."

"And that's where British companies are failing to see the good side of napping", says Ratcliffe. "Instead of seeing a nap as "a bit of a skive", managers should see more alert and motivated staff as a benefit, more likely to give eight hours of solid work, rather than an afternoon of half-hearted clock-watching.

"It's far better to have dedicated nap rooms and sleeping pods when accommodation allows, than having your staff snoozing on the toilet."

According to Ratcliffe, one Harvard study showed that companies which allow in-work napping have reaped the benefit through lower stress levels, higher rates of alertness, and lower rates of sick leave.

"There's no need to spend a fortune on accommodation or ridiculous desk gadgets from the internet," says AirConUK.co.uk 's Ratcliffe, "just simply giving permission is enough. As long as there's a formally arranged structure to make these breaks official and not eat into contracted working hours, allowing employees to sleep at their desks or a nap room have many benefits. For one, it shows companies trust their staff, and that makes for a more pleasant and more productive work-place."

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