• Jessica Taylor Yates

Napping During The Work Day: Socially Acceptable Or Animal Behaviour?

A totally biased investigation.

We fell asleep. That is all! Source: NBC


So, full disclosure. I froth a good nap. Always have. I'd love to be one of those freaks like my best friend (sorry not sorry) who look at their watch at 7am and go, 'Oh, I'm missing the day!' She then sprints out of bed and stays this way all day. Bonus points for those also who actually (shock horror!) then get dressed to live their day at home. I also know napping could potentially be avoided if I actually had a better sleep routine. I messaged Co-Laller Nikki the other day and asked how she can possibly work a full day in the office and then come home to care for her bebe. She said you just get used to it - and go to bed at 9 pm. I said she was probably right, but I'm gonna stay up 'til midnight, eat bad food, (probably some carbs or 10), play on my phone for another two hours, stress out thinking about my life choices, wake up exhausted, nap in the arvo, and repeat, forever. Cheers for the cute tips though.


The Spanish are fine with napping, or the more lush-sounding 'siesta.' In my (now adopted) homeland, it is incredibly common for many businesses and shops to close from 2-5 pm and for bars and restaurants to close from 4 pm-8 pm. The reason? Siesta time! The history behind this largely had to do with those in agricultural work not wanting to be tortured by the Spanish sun in the middle of the day, but I have just decided it applies to my home office conditions too. In Valencia, it is even a law that residents 'have a right to an afternoon nap between 2 pm and 5 pm.' Like, is this real life? Sign me up for a fiesta and siesta, stat!

However, in Australia, napping as law? Not so much. Unless you are a baby or an old person, millennial napping is seen as a lazy or lol-worthy past time. There are no nap pods at work like they have at Google (instead we get 'Games Rooms' with ping pong and foosball tables. Guys, we just want a mattress and maybe some Hayu in the background, k?) and I'm not sure napping at your desk falls under the 'Health and Wellbeing' checklist HR officials use to keep busy.


At one place, I'd 'lunch' outside and just starfish under a hidden tree for half an hour, (sometimes with mixed facial tanning results, but I digress). In lockdown, I've frothed a good nap in a real bed, sans sunburn. Many of my contemporaries have agreed. I have worked at some places where it is taboo to discuss, and others where colleagues will openly admit that this is how they spend their lunch break (without a manager present...) For me, I can have two coffees and still feel tired, but give me a rejuvenation snooze for 20 minutes (I mean...or longer....) and I just feel so much better, it's like that extra bit of sleep that was stolen in the morning is back. It's like your a phone on 10% and we just needed a bit of extra charge hun. According to Sleep.org, a nap can 'counteract the negative effects of sleep deprivation' and help to 'increase your energy levels and ability to learn.'


But would people be open to telling managers that this is what they need, or how they spend their break time? Probably not. Even though we are frequently told that sleep is the key to optimal health, weight loss, beauty and happiness, it is still not viewed as a socially acceptable way to spend a work day in western cultures.

According to clinical psychologist Michael J. Breus in a piece for Psychology Today, napping is a biological need (do I put that on my medical requirements for my next job, or?) Apparently mid arvo, or after the lunch slump, our body temperature drops and melatonin levels rise, which our bodies view as a sleep signal - so perhaps there's something to be said for naps during work hours (on your break, we mean...)


The article refers to a 2009 study that found nappers had improved concentration and accuracy, and have been attributed to alertness, creativity, mood elevation, memory and decision making. (Note: apparently this is only for the 20 min nappers out there, which feels so short. Like, that's how long it takes me to get IN to nap mode, you know?)