CPA INSIDER

Power naps from home: Are Zzzzs on the clock OK?

Follow this advice to add a brief refresh to your workday.
By Dawn Wotapka

When you work from home, your cozy bed or sofa might beckon you for a nap.

But is it OK to doze off during the traditional workday? Yes, experts say, and it may even refresh you to produce better work.

"Napping can be an excellent way to rejuvenate, clear your mind, and boost your energy levels, allowing you more productive waking hours," said Paul French, managing director of Intrinsic Executive Search, a global search firm based in the United Kingdom.

One in three people who work from home report napping while on the job, according to a 2020 study by Zippia, a California-based career website. More than one-third of respondents reported opting for a bed, while 15% snooze right at their desks.

However, that doesn't mean you can slip into pajamas and slumber for hours at a time. Below are ways to squeeze in a refreshing catnap without risking your boss's ire:  

Be responsible. It should go without saying, but don't nap while you're supposed to be working. Handle the time as you would any other appointment when it comes to deciding if you need to let colleagues or superiors know. "I don't see anything wrong with napping during the workday as a general concept, as long as the employee isn't doing it when he or she is scheduled to be doing some other task," said Michael Moran, founder of the Green Lion Search Group, a recruiting agency based in Austin, Texas, that fills roles ranging from bookkeepers to CFOs.

If your job permits scheduling flexibility, decide the best time for you and your employer. If you have to account for every minute of the traditional eight work hours each day, don't include any naps in that time, Moran advised. However, if you have scheduled breaks, "there's no reason an employee can't spend their lunch break napping instead of eating if they'd prefer."

Listen to your body. You may need an occasional rest, or there may be a certain time of day that slows you down. For many people, that is the midday slump, the period between lunch and dinner when the body is biologically designed to slow down. "If you find yourself not being alert, then your body is saying take a nap," said Kimberly Pettus, CPA, who works from home in Louisville, Ky.

Keep it short. Limit your naps to 25 minutes or less, said Paul Greene, Ph.D., a psychologist with expertise in sleep and fatigue who is director of the Manhattan Center for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in New York City. This will improve "alertness and cognitive function for the rest of the day," he said.

Napping for longer can put you into slow-wave sleep and disrupt your nighttime slumber. Extended naps can have "the countereffect of making you feel groggy," French said.

Set an alarm. Zippia's survey found that one in three people don't set an alarm for naps, putting them at risk of oversleeping and missing a meeting or deadline. That isn't wise. "Take the responsible steps like setting an alarm so you'll be back to work when you need to be," Moran said. 

French, for one, is a fan of the midday slumber. "I believe we should all take one nap a day," he said.

Dawn Wotapka is a freelance writer based in Georgia. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Chris Baysden, a JofA associate director, at Chris.Baysden@aicpa-cima.com.

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