Sleeping on the job? Some bosses want you to!Posted: Updated:
Have you ever caught a co-worker sleeping on the job?
Ever dozed off on the clock yourself?
In today's corporate culture of coming in early, staying late and working through lunch, more Valley bosses say the secret to success and productivity is letting employees sleep on the job.
Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, the Exxon Valdez oil spill — all these disasters had one thing in common. They happened on the night shift when workers were fatigued and less than alert.
Working graveyards is one thing.
But who hasn't gotten sleepy sitting at his or her desk during the day?
Now some Arizona companies are following a growing trend of some of the happiest workplaces in the country. AOL, Google and Facebook all have sleep rooms at work.
From funky sleeping pods and napping caves and dark rooms to more simple setups, there is science, proving a well-rested worker is happier, healthier and more productive.
"I think a lot of people now have that 'always on’ mentality," Christina LaPorte, who works at a Tempe PR and marketing firm called Decibel Blue, said. "There’s social media, email on your phone, which kinda puts that pressure on you to be responding constantly."
LaPorte loves her job and can easily average 60 hours keeping up with clients in a busy week.
"Sometimes there's just not enough caffeine in the world! You really have to have that actual sleep," La Porte said.
So, that’s just what she does. Right in the middle of her work day, she hits pause on her projects to sleep on the job.
And her boss not only allows it, he encourages it!
"At first, people are always hesitant," Tyler Rathjen, director of integrated marketing for Decibel Blue said. "They're like, 'Am I really allowed to go take a nap in here? Is that OK?'"
As the father of two young kids, he puts a premium on sleep and admitted even he’s used the sleep room at work to reboot and recharge.
Off the break room and kitchen is a small room where one side has storage for props and promotional supplies, the other, a giant beanbag with blanket and teddy bear to snuggle. Lights out and music encouraged.
"We’re very anti-regimented," said LaPorte, who averages a nap at least once a month.
Even her friends and family ask her how she gets away with it.
"We choose our people over profit," Laporte said.
And at a job that relies on creativity, there’s no substitute for a fresh and open mind.
"It keeps me focused," LaPorte said. "That quick nap is tremendously helpful. I just set an alarm and you know, get back up, come back to my desk and feel recharged and ready to take on the next thing."
"If you think about the big picture and what that means to productivity, it means somebody's not gonna be dragging throughout the day and that they may be able to get things done faster because they have a fresh mind," Rathjen added.
And it's not just a thing in the private sector, it's in public safety agencies, too.
The Tempe Police Department has sleep rooms at their substations. Each is equipped with a recliner, alarm clock, phone and door sign so passers-by can see it’s occupied.
"They have to be on their game all the time," Lt. Mike Pooley said of the department's staff. "They can't be relaxed; they can't be complacent, and they can't be tired."
He said dispatchers and officers who have been held over long hours or need to report to court after shift use the sleep rooms to stay at the top of their games for the demands of the job.
"They need to come here fully rested, alert, ready to go, to be ready for anything to be able to do a good job to make it home safely," Pooley said.
"It's really in the company's best interest to have a well-rested employee," Dr. Michael Breus of Valley Sleep Center said.
He said fatigue compromises quality, sanity and safety.
"All the normal things that happen in life seem 10 times worse the more sleep-deprived you are,” Breus explained.
"When you're tired, everything is terrible, right?" Breus said with a laugh. "You're more likely to make mistakes. You're more likely to make unethical decisions. You're more likely to get into a fight with your boss!"
He said lack of sleep also affects every organ and disease state, intensifying any physical ailments.
"We know cancer cells multiply faster the more sleep-deprived you are. We know pain hurts worse the more sleep-deprived you are,” he said.
Breus said setting an alarm when you sleep at work is a big key to a quick restful nap.
So, how long should you set that alarm for?
Breus said you don't have to take a 90-minute nap in the afternoon to get recharged.
He said tests on NASA astronauts have proved as little as seven minutes is enough. But don't go longer than 25 minutes.
"More than 25 minutes and you feel worse than when you started because you get into that deep sleep and it gets really hard to pull yourself out of that," Breus said.
That means the snooze button is off limits.
Breus said time of day is also key.
“Somewhere between 1 and 3 p.m., kinda that classic siesta time," he said. "It's actually easier to fall asleep biologically. Your core body temperature takes a small dip; that's a signal for your brain to release melatonin. It’s why everyone gets sleepy after lunch."
Breus said a lot of people get so tired at work, they sneak naps on break without letting anyone know where they’re going, which becomes a safety concern.
"So you go out to your car, maybe take a nap in the parking lot," Breus said.
"A short nap is all I need to give me that little boost, maybe 10,15, 20 minutes," LaPorte said.
For her, the proof is in her productivity. And at a job where creativity is your most important asset, a well-rested mind is priceless.
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