Workplace siesta around the world
Despite the many well-known benefits of a siesta, sleeping in the work place is still far from customary in the West. On the contrary, Asian countries see taking a nap in a positive light. In Japan, it is called « inemuri », literally « sleeping while one is present». In Japanese culture, sleeping during working time proves that you are exerting yourself, and that rest is therefore necessary, in proportion to the effort that one has given. In France, customs are very different, and we are still very far from embracing it.
However, trends evolve. In Europe, in particular in Scandinavian countries and Germany, habits are changing. In France, conscious of the levels of stress that their employees may face, companies are increasingly putting measures in place to help them to rest and relax. Far from being superfluous, la relaxation at work is becoming an integral part of the definition of well-being, in the same way as sharing the burden of work or good relations between colleagues. Today, 57 % of companies are keen to encourage their employees to allow themselves some rest time. Because while taking a nap allows teams to be re-energized, these moments of rest also create an increase in productivity of 35 % according to a study by NASA.
The benefits of taking a siesta at work
Before stating the advantages of a good siesta, it is a good idea to define what is meant by this short relaxation time. Sleeping at the office does not mean sleeping for several hours. The need to sleep is natural and affects every person, but to differing degrees. In the event of a lack of nocturnal sleep or insomnia, a short nap allows the body to recuperate, and also to fight temporary fatigue. After the midday meal, the digestion phase leads to tiredness as our body is working hard. To counteract this sleepiness, it is advised to take a micro-siesta of around twenty minutes. Beyond that, there is the risk of waking groggy, as the sleep cycle has not been followed. The brain will be in a phase of deep sleep and will have started to secrete hormones. To really rest, it is better to choose a quiet space, isolated from noise and light from screens.
This short respite of a maximum of half an hour will compensate for the lack of sleep. When they are well-rested, employees are most likely to focus on work. Sleep improves both cognitive and psychomotor performance. Setting aside a sleep time during the working day also helps to stimulate concentration and memory and to therefore stay energetic throughout the working day. To summarise, a resting phase helps boost effectiveness and to be more attentive. When they are more rested, employees are more likely to work calmly with their colleagues. While a siesta can help to establish a better workplace ambiance, it can also bring health benefits, as it allows for a stabilisation of cardiac rhythm and strengthens the immune system’s defences. Far from being a sign of laziness, a siesta can therefore bring positive effects both for the employees and for the functioning of the business itself.
Creating a relaxation room at work
In the past, the workplace relaxation room would have been perceived as an anomaly. Today, business owners see this relaxing cocoon as a space for well-being where their employees can de-stress. Increasingly they are setting up a room to allow everyone to recharge their batteries in a quiet space. However, setting up a break room should be well-planned. To create a zen-like atmosphere, conducive for rest, remodelling projects should follow certain rules. Firstly, you should choose a light space which is big enough to avoid a feeling of crowding. It is essential to partition off the siesta room. In fact each armchair should be isolated from the others to permit true individual relaxation. It is also possible to set up the space with an essential oil diffuser, hangers, eye masks, blankets, a trinket tray, a coffee table etc... It should also be insulated from disturbing sounds and walkway traffic. Bright signage should be put up, such as a ban on speaking in loud voices, eating, using a phone, or during certain times or different areas. For the rest areas, there should be varied light sources and light colours, such as pastel shades.
Furniture will be understated with clean lines to let light and air circulate without cluttering the space with decorative items. The idea is to not fill the space with couches. In contrast, when taking a siesta, it is better to not lie down completely as you would for night-time sleep. It is advisable to choose a zero gravity position. With this semi-lying posture, the legs are elevated, the thighs and chest therefore form an angle of 127° - the perfect angle for relaxation - the spinal column finds a neutral position, stress is removed from the back, and circulation improves. To give employees optimal rest, it would be good to choose relaxation chairs which are completely ergonomic. These upgrades can only improve workplace well-being.