Trend watch: Sleeping at work

Ever catch someone nodding off in a meeting or “resting their eyes” at their desk? Studies reveal that many people struggle to stay alert at work and it may be a growing problem.

One-third of people have fallen asleep or become sleepy at work in the past month, according to findings from the National Sleep Foundation’s annual “Sleep in America” poll.

The poll also found that Americans are working more and sleeping less. On average, people sleep six hours and 40 minutes and work for an average of nine hours and 28 minutes.

Sleeping or tiredness at work is accountable for $100 billion in lost productivity, health care costs and employee absences.

Our nation is highly sleep deprived, according to Rubin Naiman, a sleep specialist interviewed for a recent CNN article. He added that most people need at least seven to nine hours of sleep a night for optimal health.

Some companies are tackling the problem by installing “nap rooms” for employees. Just how some office design features can boost creativity, nap and break rooms can help recharge employees’ batteries. Napping can help increase your alertness, especially in the afternoon when concentration is low.

Maureen Lippe, founder of New York public relations agency Lippe Taylor, has three nap rooms for employees, one on each floor of the building. She has been known to take a nap in one of the “serenity rooms” from time to time. The room, filled with large sofas, blankets and comfortable chairs, makes it difficult not take a quick break.

If you’ve been catching more employees falling asleep at meetings or sneaking out to their car for a quick snooze, a “serenity room” may not be such a bad idea. Here’s to a happy Friday and happy napping!

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