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At the Office, Siestas Go Mainstream


A couple of us here at the office have a confession. We used to keep pillows in a filing cabinet. Every few months when one of us would get really drowsy, he or she would tiptoe behind a partition and take a weensy nap.

This stopped after awhile when the snoring got out of hand. A shame, because a new book says it's a really good thing to doze off on the job for a few minutes each day. That is, unless you drive a forklift or test airplanes for a living.

The book is called Take a Nap! Change Your Life! And it's not even written by someone from Mexico or Spain, where a siesta – a brief midday repose – is an everyday institution. No, an American wrote it, and her publisher, Workman Publishing of New York, thought so much of it that this otherwise no-nonsense place of business gave all its employees the OK to take a short, daily snooze.

The author, Sara Mednick (a research scientist at a biological institute in California) maintains that a brief nap revs up our energy level, increases productivity, and, somehow, even helps us lose weight.

The New Yorker magazine sent someone across town to talk to Workman's nappers. Some reported no increase in output, but said the catnap sure helped their mood. One woman puts on a sleep mask and catches forty winks in a closet. Someone else said he has blocked the view of his workspace so his boss won't catch him NOT napping!

Despite all this good napping news, we haven't brought our pillows back just yet. There's that snoring business. And even if the boss would approve, we're afraid that on one of those muggy days in Washington, we might nod off for an hour. Or two. Or all afternoon. We wouldn't get a lick of work done. Of course, refreshed and cheery and a tad thinner, we could head off after work for a drink and a toast to author Sara Mednick!