A recent Business Week article reported that catching a nap at work is getting the go ahead in the traditional 9-5 workplace.
Great news but the article didn't really talk about those with a "non traditional" or shift work schedules--currently 20% of the American workforce.
What about them?
In terms of sleep (and napping) those who work the night shift report 4-6 hours of sleep a night, compared to the 8.5 and 7.5 hours that morning and afternoon shift workers get. On top of that, they tend to report more awakenings and disrupted sleep than others workers.
As if that wasn't enough, there is then the added challenges of trying to override biological urge and meet social and familial obligations while balancing employment that (in theory) don't plague 9-5ers. If anyone could use a nap under a desk, it's them.
The good news is that maintaining good health is becoming a bigger priority in modern American life. A number of recent studies about the sleepiness of doctors and med students during their rounds, has alerted the medical community--and the public at large--to the link between a reduction in shift time and a decrease in doctor error.
Several organizations are taking steps to reduce the number of "on call" hours medical personnel are required to work without a break. In addition, consulting firms, workers rights' groups, and unions are calling on employers, local communities, and even the US Government, to rethink current scheduling and break policies.
Sleep scientists like Dr.Charles Czeisler are spear heading public safety campaigns against drowsy driving (a common side effect of shift work). Even napping while at work does seem to be less of a covert affair for some shift workers--much like their BizWeek brethren.
All that said, biology is biology, and (most of us) need to work to put food on the table. To make the most of the situation, try the following tips both on and off the clock.