I no longer work in an office. I work from home. This has many advantages.
I work faster because there are fewer distractions. I physically move faster because I am not bogged down by the cumbersome weight of pants. Best of all, I take a nap almost every afternoon.
No matter how well I eat, how often I exercise or how much I sleep the night before, every day around the same time I get tired. So, when I can, I take a nap. This nap typically includes 20 minutes of sound sleep and a dream in which Bernie Kosar has come out of retirement to lead the Cleveland Browns to a Super Bowl title. I am usually the Browns’ long snapper and I make a key tackle during a crucial second quarter punt. Then I wake up – generally in a three-point stance.
According to an article in The New York Times entitled “That Yawn After Lunch Is Perfectly Normal,” it turns out that my affinity for napping means that I am at one with my body.
The Times reports, “It is entirely natural for humans to want to go to sleep about seven hours after they have awakened. But as the internal rhythms of the body call out for rest, the efficiency of the modern workplace demands continued exertion.
“A study of drivers found that more car accidents occur during the afternoon dip than at noon or 7 PM … Few studies have been done on drowsiness in the workplace, but it seems likely that more errors in judgment are also occurring in offices, on factory floors and in other work environments at this time.”
I am issuing a call to corporate America right now. Workplaces should bow to human biology and provide employees with a place to nap. Do it for the workers. Do it for the economy. Do it for the mom-and-pop couch stores, which are languishing in their fight against Big Chair. Just do it already.
Every company has at least one useless vice president, sometimes dozens. Fire one of them, clear out that office, buy some dark curtains, move in three couches and give the people what their bodies demand.
Here are the benefits:
* Increased efficiency
* Happier workers
Yes, balls. Picture this. You’re thinking of doing business with a company, or maybe working there. You are being given a tour of the office when you happen across the Nap Room. “Yeah,” the VP of operations says off-handedly, “our people work hard. They’re here a lot. We give them a place to recharge. Our output has increased since we fired the Vice President of Sleeping-Around-At-Trade-Shows and turned his office into Conference Room Z-Z-Z, as everyone likes to call it. If you follow me this way I’ll show you the old international airport where we keep the huge piles of money we make.”
Balls isn’t showing clients and competitors a busy workplace. Balls is saying, “Our people take a nappy nap every afternoon and we still kick everyone’s asses.”
Sadly, many Americans attach a stigma to sleeping during the workday. As a result, one’s options for an office nap are severely limited.
I have done the Car Nap, which is fun until a coworker walks by. Then you just feel sad. I have done the Cubicle Nap. That’s where you position your body so it looks like you are reading the computer screen, but you are really sleeping while sitting up. I have, in my darkest hours, even slipped into a bathroom stall for a quick Toilet Nap.
The Toilet Nap is a terrible, terrible idea for many, many reasons.
* The acoustics. The overhead fan is noisy and doesn’t circulate air, prompting you to think it’s not a fan at all, but rather an incredibly loud Bathroom Fan Emulator. On top of that you can hear every shoe squeak, water drip and toilet flush in not only your bathroom, but every bathroom on the floor and in the building.
* The light. Is there any reason that workplace bathrooms are lit as brightly as auto dealer showrooms? If there was ever a room in which it would be OK not to see exactly what was going on, wouldn’t it be the men’s room at work? This may be a whole other column. I bet if we cut the number of workplace bathroom lights in half we could save a lot of money and energy and eliminate male pee anxiety by up to 75 percent.
* The conundrum. Do you make the sanitary choice and sit on the toilet with your pants on and risk getting caught napping on the job? Or do you commit fully to the Toilet Nap by going pants-down, a move that gives you total deniability if someone gets wise? Or, here’s a third option, do you bring an extra set of pants to work and drop those around your ankles while you’re on the bowl? I feel like there should be a special number where people can call Larry David when they face these types of questions.
* The smell. Inevitably you will be awoken by a blast from the stall directly next to yours when the Vice President of Thai-Food-For-Lunch-Every-Day settles in for a Good Push. The fear of this alone prevents any meaningful sleep. For the rest of your life. Anywhere.
Now let us never speak of the Toilet Nap again.
Napping at work is such a good idea it has been endorsed by some of the brightest minds on the planet – the writers of “The Simpsons.”
In the episode “You Only Move Twice,” Homer asks his new boss Hank Scorpio where he can get some business hammocks. Scorpio, who is a megalomaniacal super terrorist and also the world’s greatest boss, responds:
“Hammocks? My goodness, what an idea. Why didn’t I think of that? Hammocks! Homer, there’s four places. There’s the Hammock Hut, that’s on third. There’s Hammocks-R-Us, that’s on third too. You got Put-Your-Butt-There? That’s on third. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot… Matter of fact, they’re all in the same complex; it’s the hammock complex on third.”
Homer: “Oh, the hammock district.”
Best business hammock scene ever.
Note: This column has been edited since it was read on The Second Column podcast.
Click here to read the previous column – “Leaving Santa Monica.”
If you have a comment, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.