How to Recharge When You Can’t Take Naps at Work
Sleeping on the job is typically frowned upon, and if you work for the federal government, it’s actually officially a workplace taboo. In November 2019, the U.S. government banned naps at work. The General Services Administration issued a statement that said all persons are prohibited from sleeping in federal buildings, except when such activity is expressly authorized by an agency official.
The problem is, we are a sleep-deprived nation. A recent study from Ball State University analyzed 150,000 working American adults and found that the number of people who got seven hours of sleep per night or less increased from almost 31% in 2010 to more than 35% in 2018. Lack of sleep has been linked to numerous health problems, including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and strokes, along with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
It also affects productivity in the workplace. A 2016 analysis by the Rand Corporation estimates that the U.S. sustains the highest economic losses due to sleep deprivation, up to $411 billion a year, or the equivalent of about 1.23 million working days.
That’s why more private companies are encouraging their employees to take quick naps during the day, and research backs those siestas. A study published in Nature Neuroscience shows that subjects who took a 30-minute nap were able to stop deterioration in their work performance. Those who took a 60-minute nap were even able to reverse it. Experts say any type of nap can help to cut through the brain fog that creeps in during the day.
Engaging in deep diaphragmatic breathing is the fastest way to slow your body’s physiological response to stress.
But what’s a federal government employee to do when you can’t nap at work?
Here are three other ways you can recharge:
Refresh with a restorative 20-minute meditation session, which can equal up to eight hours of good sleep. Rutgers University researchers discovered that melatonin levels for people who practiced meditation were boosted by 98% on average. Meditation effectively rebalances the biological markers in the brain.
Not sure how to meditate? Try Muse, a headband that engages you in guided meditations as it provides real-time feedback. You can set reminders to help build a consistent practice.
Engaging in deep diaphragmatic breathing is the fastest way to slow your body’s physiological response to stress. Breathe in through your nose, concentrating on filling your belly with air like a balloon. Hold your breath for a count of 2, then, exhale slowly through your mouth until your belly flattens. Breaths should be at a ratio of 1:2, with exhales about twice as long as inhales. Try counting to 4 as you inhale, hold for the count of 2, then exhale to the count of 8. Start by doing this for two minutes each afternoon when you start to feel tired.
Spending even five minutes a day engaged in physical activity outside in the natural world benefits your mental and physical health. Take a break when you start to feel yourself dragging in the afternoon, and go outside for a quick walk.