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Napping at work: maybe a good idea

August 22, 2023

A study conducted by researchers from American institutions such as MIT, Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania explored the sleep quality of 450 adults in India and found that taking 30-minute naps in the afternoon led to an increase in workers’ productivity – something that doesn’t usually happen with those who sleep longer hours at night.

Monitoring devices showed that participants slept an average of 5.5 hours a night, and that their sleep was of poor quality. “Despite spending eight hours in bed, their sleep was extremely interrupted, on a level comparable to those with disorders such as sleep apnoea or insomnia,” said Mattie Toma, assistant professor at Warwick Business School and one of the authors of the research, in an article published by the World Economic Forum.

Over three weeks, she and her colleagues carried out a series of interventions on different groups of workers to see how it would affect their cognition, productivity, decision-making and well-being. All participants worked in office-based data entry roles with flexible hours. 

Sleep masks, fans, mattresses and even financial incentives did expand sleep time, but did not improve workers’ cognition, productivity or decision-making.

At the same time, another group of participants was given the option of taking a 30-minute afternoon nap in a comfortable, quiet environment. “This group saw notable improvements across the outcomes we were looking at, including psychological wellbeing, cognition, and an average 2.3% bump in productivity over the course of the day,” the researcher reported.

Educating employees on the value of high-quality sleep and encouraging them to carve out time in their daily schedules – particularly now many people are working at home sometimes – could also pay off in productivity improvements,” she concluded.

Source: Oxford Academic | World Economic Forum | Valor Econômico