A Weekly Q&A Column About Professionalism, Etiquette and Problems in the Workplace
by Sue Morem
Is Napping at Work Okay?
Dear Sue: Is it okay for me to sleep during a break at work? On
more than one occasion, Iíve used my lunch or break time to sleep. I donít
see anything wrong with putting my head on my desk when I am tired, but my
coworker does. I say Iím not sleeping on the jobóIím sleeping on my break.
He disagrees. He says itís not ever acceptable to sleep at work. Who's
Sue says: You both are. You shouldnít be sleeping when youíre
supposed to be working. If you use your break to sleep and wake up in time
to get back to work when you should, thereís no reason you shouldnít be
able to sleep on your break. However, where you sleep may be a bigger
issue than the sleeping itself.
Itís one thing for someone to walk by and see you eating lunch at your
desk, and another to walk by seeing you sleeping at your desk! You might
know youíre napping instead of eating, but other people may not.
Sleepiness on the job is a common and growing problem. The results of
the National Sleep Foundationís 2002 Sleep in America Poll found that
over 80% of American adults link inadequate sleep with impaired daytime
performance and behavior. Lack of enough sleep can make it difficult to
perform daily activities and produce quality work. When sleepy, it is more
difficult to make careful, thought-out decisions or listen carefully to
Inadequate sleep can lead to costly and dangerous mistakes, yet
two-thirds of those surveyed say they are likely to accept their
sleepiness and keep going, disregarding its effects.
Napping at work can be valuable--it is the norm in some European
countries, and a growing number of American companies are providing nap
rooms to allow their employees to sleep on the job.
Most sleepiness is due to the lack of enough quality sleep. For a
better nights sleep, NSF recommends going to bed and waking up the same
time every day, regular exercise, less (or no) caffeine, and avoiding
nicotine and alcohol. Never eat a heavy meal or drink too many fluids late
at night. Unwinding before going to bed can help ensure a good night's
sleep; try to establish a relaxing routine.
Get to the root of your sleepiness, and rule out any medical conditions
causing your drowsiness.
If youíre still requiring sleep at work, using your breaks to sleep
could be the solution. Talk with your superiors before you make it a
habit, and determine the best place for you to take your naps. Gaining
their support is important, and will prevent any misunderstandings about
your ability to stay awake at work.
Sleep responsibly: Always wake up on time (a vibrating alarm clock is
advised), and donít sleep in public if you suspect you snore. If your
sleep begins to disrupts others, youíll be dealing with a bigger, and much
more embarrassing, problem.
Sue Morem is a professional speaker, trainer and syndicated columnist. She
is author of the newly released
101 Tips for Graduates and
How to Gain the Professional Edge, Second Edition. You can contact her by email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her web site at
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