How to Get Your Boss to Allow a Mid-Day Nap

No matter how closely we follow the Primal Blueprint, dips in energy are bound to hit from time to time. Last week, I identified a bunch of tricks for getting yourself out of the hazy afternoon slump. The most popular – and most elusive, I’d imagine – was the afternoon power nap. There’s nothing like taking a quick one to restore energy, but sleeping on the job simply isn’t feasible for a lot of the work force. If you work outside or share a tiny cubicle with a couple other people, we can’t help you. But if it’s your boss giving you grief about a little naptime, there are ways around that.

No, I’m not talking about sneaking in surreptitious naps. I’m talking about standing up to conventional wisdom with cold hard scientific facts corroborated by real results – the MDA way. If your boss has a strict no-napping policy (which is actually pretty common), he or she is probably unaware of the loads of studies linking afternoon power naps with increased productivity, better cognitive function and memory retention, and lower stress levels. Your boss is probably concerned about wasted time on the clock and increasing productivity – and rightfully so. An incredible amount of time is wasted everyday in the office, and productivity doesn’t always match up with the hours spent in office. You have to help your boss realize that a 20-minute nap during the day won’t contribute to the lack of productivity; if anything, it will improve things.

Present this, a quick list of irrefutable, properly conducted studies exhibiting the efficacy of napping as healthy and good for productivity:

Having trouble recovering from a business trip several time zones away? Napping has been shown to help stave off jet lag.

Finding it difficult to concentrate at work? Perhaps a 20-minute nap will improve your “subjective sleepiness, performance level, and self-confidence.”

Excelling at your job is about your ability to learn new things and retain memories. What if a sleep-deficit could hamper your ability to learn? What if a quick nap was enough to make up for it?

Are rising health care costs a concern for your employer? Maybe you should mention that an afternoon nap is good for the heart – especially for working people – and reduces the need for doctor’s visits.

What if a 26 minute nap could boost performance by 34%?!

Of course, simply producing studies means nothing without tangible results. If your boss relents and gives you, say, a week of naps, make sure you work your rear off to prove that napping is viable and helpful. Double your productivity if you can. Take notes of your progress so you can present an especially solid case at week’s end.

If your boss doesn’t notice any difference, present your findings (and don’t forget to mention that your napping won’t be a daily ritual – only as needed). No boss can argue with real results.

Congratulations. You’ve just successfully negotiated naptime into your workday.

Now, this won’t work with every boss, or in every office. Some people just won’t listen to reason and will always regard napping as slothful (maybe it’s our Puritan roots), and some offices simply don’t have the proper infrastructure for naps (although you could always sneak off to your car). I’m not guaranteeing anything, but I assure you that citing lab studies and increasing actual productivity is your best shot at getting naptime privileges.

Oh, and don’t go much longer than 20 minutes. Once you hit the 45 minute mark, you’re venturing into deep sleep, which is much harder to wake up from and will leave you even groggier than before. Besides, 20 minutes is easier to sell to your boss.

Good luck!

Further Reading:

How to Avoid Jet Lag

When It Comes to Sleep, Average is Best

The Spanish Have it Right with Their Siestas

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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31 thoughts on “How to Get Your Boss to Allow a Mid-Day Nap”

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  1. Nap minutes are great minutes, but how do I control how many minutes I nap? If I use a wake-up alarm to jar myself out of nappiness, do I kill all the pleasant, refreshing vibes?

  2. so far i’ve been taking naps during my lunch break when i really need it. it definitely helps me for the rest of the afternoon. it would be nice to take a nap at a different time of the day though…

    p.s. if anyone tries this with their boss, let us know how it goes!

  3. I close my office door around 3 and my co-workers now I’m napping. 5 minutes is all I need, I wake up naturally. I drift off in about 10 seconds. I know it’s weird 😉
    But I’ve been doing it since I was a teen ager.
    Interesting side note; my first job after college, one of the bosses napped everyday from 1:30-2. and encouraged everyone in the office to do the same. I guess he was way ahead of his time 😉

  4. Just presented this to my boss. The response was laughter. Oh well. If I really wanted to, I could go nap in my car during lunch but I prefer to walk during that time.

    The SoG

  5. I have been a closet napper for at least 20 years. I have only recently come out of hiding as a napper. I highly recommend the book “change your life, take a nap” by Sara Mednick, Ph.D.

    Napping has made me more efficient for many years. My naps usually last only for 20 minutes and allow me to stay razor sharp through the day.

    There is a great scientific rationale for taking naps. It’s like everything else, I don’t expect other people to get it. I just present the information and let them decide.

    It worked for Winston Churchill and it works for me.

    For a more technical look at napping I would suggest the book “why we nap” by Claudio Stampi – a good luck finding it LOL.

  6. Never really got into napping myself. I can’t fall asleep quickly or easily midway through the day, even if I am quite tired. However, even if I was good at napping I seriously doubt my boss would go for this. His idea of productivity is very mathmatical i.e. the more hours you are at your desk the more productive you are.

  7. Great post. We definitely need a shift in public consciousness on this issue.

  8. Here is an interesting quote:

    You must sleep sometime between lunch and dinner, and no half way measures. Take off your clothes and get into bed. That’s what I always do. Don’t think you will be doing less work because you sleep during the day. That’s a foolish notion held by people who have no imagination. You will be able to accomplish more. You will get two days in one – well, at least 1 1/2, I’m sure. When the war started, I had to sleep during the day because that was the only way I could cope with my responsibilities.

    – Sir Winston Churchill

    Other notable nappers include Leonardo da Vinci, Salvadore Dali and Thomas Edison.

  9. If you have an office, put a note on the door saying you are out. Turn off the lights and sleep. Be sure to set an alarm.

  10. I love naps. I prefer sleeping in the day to the evening as well. I think it’s hereditary. I am a day shift worker in a family full of night shifters.

    With my job I can nap whenever I want to as long as I punch out while I nap or take care of any other personal business. The only trouble is that my day is longer if I nap. I can take off two hours for lunch or ten minutes, my boss doesn’t care. As long as I see all my patients by the end of the day, I can do basically whatever I want which is pretty awesome. Working in a nursing home as a physical therapist assistant does have it’s benefits. I also get to go in when it works best for me rather than a set time. Making my own hours is the best thing since sippy cups (great for in the car btw).

  11. primalman,
    speaking of Sir Churchill, I would add that the man, when asked why he’s so sound and healthy (he lived up to the age of I guess 93 or 94) he answered : “first of all, no sports”. So he wasn’t so much of a primal example (not to mention his daily booze 🙂

  12. Haha I wish. No matter how many irrefutable arguments I can offer, there is no way I’ll ever be allowed a mid-day nap.

    Great piece, though.

  13. in my work it’s impossible to nap so I am playing with various forms of intermittent fasting to keep myself conscious.
    what works for me: eat no breakfast, no lunch, just drink green ice tea w/ lemon all day. start eating after 5 pm. otherwise, even on zero carb all day, on returning home from work I am falling asleep (train not car ;-), even if I read the MDA! 🙂

  14. Naps work well for me also. I’ve been taking them since high school. Caffeine does not wake me up or give me an energy boost. A 10-20 min nap does. Works for me during work, long drives or even long hikes.
    Unfortunately it’s not easy for everyone to fall asleep during the day. I’m lucky that falling asleep and waking up naturally is no problem for me.

  15. Cat naps are vital. Even the most fit of people need them. I guess it could come off as “i am so bored” but whether you are or not, take a nap and eat right and exercise. that’s all.

  16. Try Nap26. It’s an audio sleep system based on studies done by NASA which showed that a precise 26 minute nap improves energy and alertness for airline pilots. Nap26 uses Binaural beats and vibrations that stimulate deeper relaxation and then in 26 minutes uses vibrations that stimulate alertness and it wakes you up gently and calmly since you’ve only entered the first 2 sleep cycles necessary to help mental altertness.

  17. My boss lets me do this, it works great. It would work less well if I wasn’t self employed though

  18. Mark, I loved this post. I often take naps in my car at lunchtimes, but though my colleagues seem to have accepted the fact that I eat very few carbs I don’t think they’d understand that napping can be good for you!

  19. When I was pregnant I was fortunate to have my own office with a door that locked. I would take a nap on the floor EVERY day. That’s the only way I got through the workday for ten months.

    At one of our work locations, we have an employee who is in his 80s (he works part-time). On the days that he works, his manager allows him to go out to his car for a nap after lunch every day. It enhances the employee’s productivity =)

  20. Studies show that 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon provides more rest than 20 minutes more sleep in the morning. The body seems to be designed for this, as most people’s bodies naturally become more tired in the afternoon, about 8 hours after we wake up.

  21. What do you recommend for people like me who cannot fall asleep quickly? I’ve tried napping many times but each time I end up staying awake for over 30mins trying to sleep. I guess my mind just wonders. Tried binaural beats, music, earplugs/masks etc.

  22. I nap in the backseat of my car at work during lunch when weather permits (not too hot or too cold in the car). It’s amazing. I just set my cell phone alarm and it wakes me up in an hour. My car windows are very darkly tinted so no one can see in. An hour is probably too long in most people’s books, but my naps are always 1 to 1.5 hours.

  23. I’m surprised no one has mentioned this, but athletes are advised to take 30 minute naps in the early afternoon to help increase recovery from exercise due to the HGH released during the initial parts of sleep.
    Just woke up from a nap feel much more refreshed.