Sleep & Work
Sleep is a concept that we take it for granted due to our hectic schedules, yet it is essential to our long-term health and well-being.
In recent years, there were many studies published that extolls the values of power napping. Benefits include sharpening one’s focus, boosting one’s creativity as well as mitigating the effects of sleep deprivation. It has not been lost on big corporations. Companies such as Google, Huffington Post and Cisco have engaged MetroNaps, a fatigue management company, to provide private “sleeping pods”. Started in 2004 as a retail operation, MetroNaps now manufacture their own line of sleep pods and act as “sleep consultants” to companies more accepting to the idea of napping at work.
The science behind sleeping during work
Christopher Lindholst, one of the company founders, commented that sleeping during work used to be a mad concept. Now, the trend is gaining traction due to increasing awareness about the potential benefits of napping. He attributes this awareness to the large number of studies heralding the benefits of sleep, as well as the correlation between “the health of a business with the business’ concern with the health of employees”.
While companies are warming up to the idea, people need a discreet space to nap until it becomes a norm. Hence, MetroNaps pods are designed to look like a combination of sensory deprivation tanks and lounge chairs. It has an ergonomically designed recliner topped with a four-foot visor that surrounds the user’s body like a giant helmet. The angle recline is based on a “gravity neutral” concept that NASA researched and implemented in its spacecraft. This concept essentially distributes the person’s weight equally and takes pressure off the cardiovascular system. Each pod comes with a timer that limits the nap to 20 minutes – anything more would make the user more groggy than refreshed. Lindholst suggested naps should be taken between 1pm to 4pm, when most people’s energy levels drop.
Napping culture in Asia
In many Asian countries, the work culture stipulates long work hours as a validation to productivity and attitude towards work. While the society is slowly changing by emphasising more on work-life balance, workers in Asian cultures still work for longer hours per year as compared to the rest of the world!
Having visited offices with sleeping pods, such as Google and Bloomberg, the true benefits of taking a short naps during work is quite remarkable. Perhaps it’s time that local MNCs look into having sleeping pods in the office, especially for departments where employees are required to work long hours. It might just accelerate the changes in Singapore’s work culture for good!