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Sometimes Sleeping on the Job May Be a Good Thing
Date:7/14/2011

around 3 to 4 p.m.," he said.

People eventually shrug off the effects of the circadian dip, but while it has them in its grip, he said, they'll be slightly impaired.

Sleep experts believe it's better if people don't fight the circadian rhythm, particularly those whose jobs demand constant vigilance. Instead, they believe that employers should set aside space, such as a break room or duty area, where workers can go to grab a quick nap.

"All you need is about 15 or 20 minutes to have a significant impact on performance," Avidan said.

The nap needs to be short. Anything longer than 30 minutes starts to encroach upon actual sleep and can have a detrimental effect on a person's alertness, said Dr. Helene A. Emsellem, director of the Center for Sleep & Wake Disorders in Chevy Chase, Md.

"Long naps can be difficult to wake up from and are not as productive as short naps," Emsellem said. Avidan agreed, adding that people who take longer naps are more likely to wake up groggy.

Nonetheless, power naps are not for everyone. Some people find it hard to wind down while they're at work, Emsellem said. And some people simply will not nap, even if they need it, because of societal perceptions of people who sleep on the job, she said.

"Unfortunately, I think there's a stigma attached to taking a nap, so many people don't take advantage of the opportunity," she said. "We tend to think of sleepy people as lazy people."

On the other hand, workers should not burn the candle at both ends and expect to successfully substitute on-the-job naps for actual sleep.

"A nap is a Band-Aid, in a sense," Emsellem said. "You don't want to Band-Aid grossly misallocated sleep with a power nap. Employees need to understand their sleep requirements."

But for those who could use a workday nap, research has found that employers are beginning to catch on, with a growing number offering workers a place to power nap, she said.

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