Public Release: 

Sleeping on the job? Actually, that's a good thing

University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR--Employees seeking to boost their productivity at work should take a nap--yes, sleeping on the job can be a good thing.

A new University of Michigan study finds that taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration.

Napping, the researchers say, can be a cost-efficient and easy strategy to increase workplace safety. In other words, employers may find their employees more productive when the workplace has nap pods in the workplace or extended break times are offered.

It's becoming increasingly common for people, especially adults, to not sleep an entire night. This can negatively impair a person's attention and memory, as well as contribute to fatigue.

U-M researchers examined how a brief nap affected adults' emotional control. The study's 40 participants, ages 18-50, maintained a consistent sleep schedule for three nights prior to the test.

In a laboratory, participants completed tasks on computers and answered questions about sleepiness, mood and impulsivity. They were randomly assigned to a 60-minute nap opportunity or no-nap period that involved watching a nature video. Research assistants monitored the participants, who later completed those questionnaires and tasks again.

Those who napped spent more time trying to solve a task than the non-nappers who were less willing to endure frustration in order to complete it. In addition, nappers reported feeling less impulsive.

Combined with previous research demonstrating the negative effects of sleep deprivation, results from this latest study indicate that staying awake for an extended period of time hinders people from controlling negative emotional responses, said Jennifer Goldschmied, the study's lead author.

"Our results suggest that napping may be a beneficial intervention for individuals who may be required to remain awake for long periods of time by enhancing the ability to persevere through difficult or frustrating tasks," said Goldschmied, a doctoral student in the Department of Psychology.

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The study's authors also include Philip Cheng, Kathryn Kemp, Lauren Caccamo, Julia Roberts and Patricia Deldin.

The findings appear in the current online issue of Personality and Individual Differences.

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