Sleeping at Work – How to Use Your Desk, Vehicle, Meeting Room, and More

Have you ever taken a nap at work? Maybe you had a long night, and you can’t keep your eyes open for another second. Or, perhaps you’re coming down with a bug, and you feel exhausted.

Once considered taboo, sleeping at work is becoming more acceptable with an estimated 6% of employers providing dedicated nap rooms. However, not every company is so progressive. If you’re in need of some shuteye during working hours, you may need to get creative and plan accordingly.

This article can help you know of some prime locations, give you tips on being subtle, and even provide ways to prevent getting into trouble if you get caught.

Who Sleeps at Work?

More people than you might have guessed are sleeping in the office or on their job sites. An Amerisleep survey of more than 1,000 found that 70% of technology workers nap when they’re at work. Considering that progressive companies like Google and Uber encourage naps among their employees, this statistic makes perfect sense.

However, did you know that over 68% of construction workers and 52% of manufacturing employees admit to sleeping on the job, too? In fact, among all of the professions, there’s a significant amount of on-the-job nappers.

Prime Napping Spots

Desk/Cubicle

The easiest place to sleep is at your desk (or under it), though it can be hard to be subtle, especially if you’re in a crowded office or your workplace has one of those open plans where everyone is looking at each other all day. You could try angling your body away from sight and rest your hand on your mouse to simulate work activity.

Meeting Room

If you don’t have a dedicated workspace or you want to hide from prying eyes, a meeting room is an optimal choice. It should be larger and more spacious, too. You can turn out the lights and lie under the table. Or, there could be a couch and some pillows available for you to use.

a meeting room with big windows

Office

For people with a private office, this is an ideal spot. You can close the door, put your phone on “do not disturb” and enjoy complete privacy. Just don’t spend too much time with your door closed or you might arouse suspicion.

Vehicle

Your car might be the most comfortable and private spot, especially if you park in a secluded area. You should be able to get cozy with your reclining seat, and you might want to bring a pillow and blanket to recreate the feelings of home.

A yellow old classy vehicle

Other

If the weather is mild, you could even take a siesta outside. Bring a blanket and lie under a tree, on a bench or out in the open. Make sure your valuables are secured, and you’re in a safe location.

How to Sleep at Work

Private Office

Offices have doors, and if you’ve climbed the corporate ladder high enough to have your own office, then you should have no problem closing the door, pressing the DND button on your telephone and lying down for a break. Bonus points if you’ve got a couch in there, too.

Just make sure you set an alarm. Otherwise, you could be out longer than you planned.

Wear Sunglasses

There’s a way to pull off wearing sunglasses inside without arousing suspicion. All you have to do is tell people they’re prescription glasses and you left your regular glasses at home, and you need the darker prescription lenses to see. Then close your eyes and sleep incognito, Hollywood style.

a girl is wearing black sunglasses

Use Your Car

The car is a favorite go-to napping destination. It has everything you need for a snooze fest. Music, climate control, reclining seats, and any other amenities you choose to bring from home.

Try not to leave the engine running as it can be rough on the engine and a waste fuel. If it’s hot outside, crack the windows and try finding a shady parking spot.

Use the Bathroom

Desperate times call for desperate measures. If there’s no private spot for you to catch a cat nap, you may find refuge in a bathroom stall. Be careful, though; bathroom floors are crawling with nasty bacteria, and they’re not the most comfortable place for a nap.

Ask for Permission

Sometimes asking for permission is your best bet. If you have a compelling reason for needing a nap (an all-night drinking fest doesn’t count), then talk to your boss and ask for an extra 20-minute break to rest so that you can come back to your duties refreshed.

Another approach is to cite some of the recent studies that have been done about the benefits of napping in the workplace. However, don’t belabor the issue if your boss is against the idea. You could risk looking like you’re trying to avoid responsibility.

Set an Alarm

It’s pretty easy to sleep the afternoon away if you let yourself go. To prevent sleeping through the rest of your shift, set an alarm for between 15 to 30 minutes. This amount of time is ideal for waking up refreshed, and it’s short enough that you shouldn’t miss out on too much of the day.

big red alarm clock on the blue background

Nap During Your Break Times

By law, you’re entitled to breaks during your workday. Those minutes are yours to do as you wish.

So, why not plan your napping schedule to coincide with your breaks? As long as you can find a safe and quiet place, no one can fault you for this habit.

Try a Caffeine Nap

Caffeine (coffee) naps are quickly catching on as the ultimate bio-hack. The way they work is that you drink a cup of coffee and then immediately lie down. Set the alarm for about 20 to 25 minutes. During this time, the caffeine enters your system, so when you wake up, you should be caffeinated and enjoying a second wind.

espresso coffee in the glass

What to Do if You Get Caught

If you’ve been caught sleeping on the job, don’t panic. Amerisleep’s survey found that about half of the time, workers faced zero repercussions. Other workers got verbal or written warnings but getting fired almost never happened.

If you do get found out, explain to your boss why you need a nap. If possible, explain that it was also during your break or lunch hour. If your boss is still angry, apologize and assure him or her that it won’t happen again.

How Salary May Dictate Nap Habits

Surprisingly there’s a direct correlation between nap habits and salary. It turns out that the higher your salary, the less likely you are to spend time asleep at work.

The difference isn’t as dramatic as one might think, though. Workers earning less than ten thousand dollars per year sleep an average of four times a month at work and wage earners making more than one hundred thousand dollars nap an average of 2.4 times per month.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do naps at work increase productivity?

Yes, power naps can increase productivity as long as they’re scheduled appropriately. NASA scientists found that a 30-minute nap enhanced alertness, improved performance and aided in memory.

Are there laws regarding it?

Surprisingly, yes. The Fair Labor Standards Act has laws that specify whether an employer must pay for time spent sleeping on the job. Instances in which an employee is confined and on-call in a certain location require employers to pay for napping time.

For example, a firefighter on call who must remain at the station can nap when he or she is off-duty. But, they must spring to action whenever duty calls.

Another example is a shift that lasts 24 hours. In these cases, the employer must pay for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Are there benefits?

Yes, there several benefits to getting some shuteye during the workday. The biggest one is increased productivity. When you’re tired and dragging your feet, you’re not likely to be productive, but a brief siesta can leave you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.

Another benefit is that you wake up feeling like you’re in a better mood. Sometimes people need to escape from their environment and press an internal reset button. Napping allows you do to exactly that.

Conclusion


Feeling tired is a human condition. With so many people experiencing sleep deprivation, taking a nap at work now and again isn’t just a luxury; it may be a necessity.

So, find a quiet spot and relax. Just don’t forget to set your alarm!

Sources and References:

  1. Long Work Hours, Extended or Irregular Shifts, and Worker Fatigue – osha.gov
  2. Fatigue Management in the Workplace -ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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Author: Sleep Advisor

Our team covers as many areas of expertise as we do time zones, but none of us started here as a so-called expert on sleep. What we do share is a willingness to ask questions (lots of them), seek experts, and dig deep into conventional wisdom to see if maybe there might be a better path towards healthy living. We apply what we learn not only to our company culture, but also how we deliver information to our over 12.7M readers.

Sleep research is changing all the time, and we are 100% dedicated to keeping up with breakthroughs and innovations. You live better if you sleep better. Whatever has brought you here, we wish you luck on your journey towards better rest.

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