Napping, if limited to under 30 minutes, can be restorative,...

Napping, if limited to under 30 minutes, can be restorative, one sleep science coach said. Credit: Getty Images/ridvan_celik

Around a third of workers say they nap during work hours at least once a week, according to a recent survey of full-time employees.

The survey, conducted by Sleep Doctor, a Seattle-based wellness company that tests sleep-related products, found that 33% of the 1,250 workers it polled said they slept at least once a week while on the job. In total, nearly half of workers surveyed — 46% — said they’ve napped on the job at least a few times a year.

Unsurprisingly, remote and hybrid workers were more likely to nap during work hours than in-person workers. On a weekly basis, 34% of remote workers take naps compared with 45% of hybrid workers and 27% of in-person workers.

“Remote work, napping, and stress during the pandemic, these sorts of themes have been around for a few years since the work paradigm shifted” in favor of more remote options, said David Rubin, a certified sleep science coach with Sleep Doctor and an author behind the survey, released last month.

Rubin said while some in management might be shocked to hear how many workers may nap during the day, especially those who work from home, he doesn’t think employers should then assume workers “are at home being lazy and sleeping all day.’”

Napping, if limited to under 30 minutes, can be restorative, Rubin said, and even aid productivity in the long run, especially if an employee might be dealing with sleep scheduling issues or other stressors.

“If someone can do their work while also just blocking 30 minutes from 1:30 to 2 [p.m.] a couple times a week, and they feel they can come back that afternoon energized, then I would argue that’s valuable use of time,” he said.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they at times napped for 15 to 29 minutes.

Human resources executives on Long Island said while employee productivity was top of mind, a worker dozing on the clock was more cause for concern than immediate punitive action.

“Because we have the majority of the employees at the office, if someone was sleeping at their desk, we’d be concerned,” said Liz Uzzo, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Melville-based H2M architects + engineers.

Uzzo said over her tenure in HR, she’s run into the issue of employees napping on the job or falling asleep in a meeting a handful of times. Normally, her approach is to make sure that an employee is doing all right.

“We try and approach things from a ‘Are you OK?’ perspective,” Uzzo said.

And while sleeping at their desks would be a concern, she said workers were more than entitled to use their breaks to grab a quick nap if needed.

“Obviously if someone needs a nap during the day, we have regular built-in breaks and lunch where people can sit in their car or in the lounge downstairs,” she said. “That’s their prerogative.”

Jami Schultz, senior director of corporate HR at Canon USA, said she was shocked to hear about the percentage of workers who sleep on the job, but not the survey’s findings on workplace stress.

According to the survey, 77% of full-time workers said they’d lost sleep on an average night due to work stressors. Among hybrid workers, 88% reported losing sleep on a nightly basis to work stress, compared with 71% of remote workers and 73% of in-person workers.

“What’s not surprising is that some employees in a hybrid workstyle could potentially feel more burnout or heightened stress,” Schultz said. Still, she said Canon has found workers appreciate the flexibility that comes with a hybrid arrangement and believes it might contribute to greater productivity.

Although she can’t say for certain whether workers are napping at home during office hours, she said she hasn’t had managers reach out regarding productivity concerns.

“Employees are generally happier with our current hybrid model, and it’s led to fewer performance issues,” Schultz said.

Although naps can have benefits, sleep researchers say frequent napping can be a sign of a sleep disorder or a medical issue, said Dr. Gary Wohlberg, director of South Shore University Hospital’s Sleep Lab. 

“No question, the sleep hygiene in this country isn’t so good,” Wohlberg said. “People burn the candles at both ends commonly.”

Additionally, conditions like sleep apnea can be a common cause for daytime exhaustion and frequent napping.

“You could be sleeping eight hours a night and still be tired,” he said.

Around a third of workers say they nap during work hours at least once a week, according to a recent survey of full-time employees.

The survey, conducted by Sleep Doctor, a Seattle-based wellness company that tests sleep-related products, found that 33% of the 1,250 workers it polled said they slept at least once a week while on the job. In total, nearly half of workers surveyed — 46% — said they’ve napped on the job at least a few times a year.

Unsurprisingly, remote and hybrid workers were more likely to nap during work hours than in-person workers. On a weekly basis, 34% of remote workers take naps compared with 45% of hybrid workers and 27% of in-person workers.

“Remote work, napping, and stress during the pandemic, these sorts of themes have been around for a few years since the work paradigm shifted” in favor of more remote options, said David Rubin, a certified sleep science coach with Sleep Doctor and an author behind the survey, released last month.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • The survey found that 33% of the 1,250 workers polled said they slept at least once a week while on the job.
  • Nearly half of workers surveyed — 46% — said they’d napped on the job at least a few times a year. The poll was conducted by Sleep Doctor, a Seattle-based wellness company that tests sleep-related products.
  • Remote and hybrid workers were more likely to nap during work hours than in-person workers.
  • On a weekly basis, 34% of remote workers take naps compared with 45% of hybrid workers and 27% of in-person workers.

Rubin said while some in management might be shocked to hear how many workers may nap during the day, especially those who work from home, he doesn’t think employers should then assume workers “are at home being lazy and sleeping all day.’”

Napping, if limited to under 30 minutes, can be restorative, Rubin said, and even aid productivity in the long run, especially if an employee might be dealing with sleep scheduling issues or other stressors.

“If someone can do their work while also just blocking 30 minutes from 1:30 to 2 [p.m.] a couple times a week, and they feel they can come back that afternoon energized, then I would argue that’s valuable use of time,” he said.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they at times napped for 15 to 29 minutes.

Human resources executives on Long Island said while employee productivity was top of mind, a worker dozing on the clock was more cause for concern than immediate punitive action.

“Because we have the majority of the employees at the office, if someone was sleeping at their desk, we’d be concerned,” said Liz Uzzo, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Melville-based H2M architects + engineers.

Uzzo said over her tenure in HR, she’s run into the issue of employees napping on the job or falling asleep in a meeting a handful of times. Normally, her approach is to make sure that an employee is doing all right.

“We try and approach things from a ‘Are you OK?’ perspective,” Uzzo said.

And while sleeping at their desks would be a concern, she said workers were more than entitled to use their breaks to grab a quick nap if needed.

“Obviously if someone needs a nap during the day, we have regular built-in breaks and lunch where people can sit in their car or in the lounge downstairs,” she said. “That’s their prerogative.”

Jami Schultz, senior director of corporate HR at Canon USA, said she was shocked to hear about the percentage of workers who sleep on the job, but not the survey’s findings on workplace stress.

According to the survey, 77% of full-time workers said they’d lost sleep on an average night due to work stressors. Among hybrid workers, 88% reported losing sleep on a nightly basis to work stress, compared with 71% of remote workers and 73% of in-person workers.

“What’s not surprising is that some employees in a hybrid workstyle could potentially feel more burnout or heightened stress,” Schultz said. Still, she said Canon has found workers appreciate the flexibility that comes with a hybrid arrangement and believes it might contribute to greater productivity.

Although she can’t say for certain whether workers are napping at home during office hours, she said she hasn’t had managers reach out regarding productivity concerns.

“Employees are generally happier with our current hybrid model, and it’s led to fewer performance issues,” Schultz said.

Although naps can have benefits, sleep researchers say frequent napping can be a sign of a sleep disorder or a medical issue, said Dr. Gary Wohlberg, director of South Shore University Hospital’s Sleep Lab. 

“No question, the sleep hygiene in this country isn’t so good,” Wohlberg said. “People burn the candles at both ends commonly.”

Additionally, conditions like sleep apnea can be a common cause for daytime exhaustion and frequent napping.

“You could be sleeping eight hours a night and still be tired,” he said.

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