Posts

The sleep pod predicament

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute

A recent trend in offices providing napping spaces has some critics and experts concerned that employers are missing the point. The Guardian recently published an article that takes a look at some of the issues.

Employers, like Google, The Huffington Post and Hootsuite, have invested in napping pods and rooms in an attempt to boost productivity.  After all, if research shows that a 20-minute nap can improve alertness for the rest of the day, it seems logical that employers could facilitate a nice nap to get the most productivity out of their workforce, right?

We know that napping is important for shift workers like nurses and airline employees, but in an office environment not intended to be a 24/7 workplace – are nap rooms and pods solving a problem or encouraging workers to put in longer shifts and interfering with their ability to get the quality evening sleep they need?

The first step in fostering a healthy work culture is making informed decisions.  As we suggested in this piece about the Boston Red Sox, if a workforce is so tired that they want a nap room, it is important to look at why this is the case, before investing in any solutions which may address only the symptom and not the cause.

Collecting and analyzing sleep data that clearly illustrates aggregate quantity and quality of sleep, and highlights flaws in workforce scheduling can help determine the optimal solution for enhancing employee productivity and health – including schedule modifications and yes, even a nap room or sleep pod.

2 reasons why a sleep room won’t help the Red Sox

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Boston Red Sox have installed a “sleep room” at Fenway Park. While David Ross confirms this is a “nice” way to cope with strenuous travel schedules and an intense season, the problem is that it acts like a band-aid on the larger issues that work against professional sports teams.

David Ross

Although I do applaud CEO Larry Lucchino for recognizing the importance of sleep, there are two key factors that the “sleep room” does not address:

1. Road games aren’t addressed. As a team, going on the road is a major source of fatigue related problems. A singular sleep room at your home field may temporarily alleviate the symptoms of fatigue, it fails to address this core issue.

What’s missing is you need to understand the effects of your travel specific schedule on your body. Once you can clearly see the connection fatigue is having on performance, then you can begin the process of putting measures in place that optimize rest time. Any way you slice it, this a major problem for road games, and a nice sleep room at your home field is missing the point.

2. Napping is not the solution for sports teams. If players on your team are so tired midday that they feel the need to nap, it is very likely they are either not getting enough sleep, or not enough quality sleep at night. You could be missing a big piece of the puzzle by providing a band-aid style solution.

While a quiet room to take a nap may be a good option to stay functional for many people who work 12-hour night shifts, a baseball team would find more benefit from a more dedicated, personalized plan for rest.

There is no doubt that professional athletes perform best when they are rested. Tiger Woods is yet another example of an athlete finding out the hard way why sleep is a core component to a successful training routine. Woods, seeking his sixth victory this year at the Tour Championship in Atlanta fell nine strokes off the pace overnight.  He reportedly “ran out of gas”. Make no mistake, an hour nap before this tournament would not have helped him.

Tiger Woods (via Reuters and FirstPost)

Recognition that sleep plays an important role in an athlete’s career is not enough.  If you do not have accurate data that shows not only the quantity, but the quality of sleep an athlete is getting, you don’t have the full picture.  Decision-making based on anything less than the full picture is a stab in the dark at improving sport performance.