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Tony Schwartz is President and CEO of The Energy Project, a company that helps individuals and organizations fuel energy, engagement, focus, and productivity by harnessing the science of high performance. Tony’s most recent book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs that Energize Great Performance, was published in May 2010 and became an immediate The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller.
Workers who perform duties that make napping on the job impossible, will be laughing at the latest research that suggest that napping on the job is essential for productivity and mental alertness. Perhaps getting a good nights sleep would remove the need to take a nap at 1pm.
From Tony Schwartz
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When Sara Mednick, a former Harvard researcher, gave her subjects a memory challenge, she allowed half of them to take a 60 to 90 minute nap, the nappers dramatically outperformed the non-nappers. In another study, Mednick had subjects practice a visual task at four intervals over the course of a day. Those who took a 30 minute nap after the second session sustained their performance all day long. Those who didn’t nap performed increasingly poorly as the day wore on.
“A nap,” argues Mathew Walker, a sleep researcher at Berkeley, “not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness, but at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap.”
For all this evidence, I’ve yet to come across a single company that actively and enthusiastically encourages employees to nap. A growing number, including Google, provide napping pods and renewal rooms. That’s a great first step, but it’s scarcely the norm to use them.
Napping won’t begin to take hold in companies until leaders recognize that it’s not the number of hours people work that determines the value they create, but rather the energy they’re capable of bringing to whatever hours they work.
If encouraging employees to take a half hour nap means they can be two or three times as productive over the subsequent three hours–and far more emotionally resilient–the value is crystal clear. It’s a win-win and a great investment.