Monday, February 12, 2007

Sleeping At Work

Being the parent of two children in diapers, plus working full time as a lab rat, is a hell of a tiring lifestyle. In the typical day I get home around 6:00PM or 6:30PM and immediately launch into "daddy mode", which doesn't stop until the kids go to sleep around 9:00PM. By then all I want to do is crash in front of the TV, but there are always household chores to do. And I am a busy body type with lots of hobbies, so in order to get those things done, too, I wind up staying up until about 1AM. Add to this the fact that the kids still tend to wake up once or twice a night, and if they are sick or teething they wake up a lot more. Then of course I have to wake up in time to get to work (which, luckily, doesn't require me there until 9AM), and every other morning it's my turn to get up with the kids, sometime between 6:30AM and 7:30AM. So I only get about 5 or 6 hours of interrupted sleep on a good night. I'm only half-complaining, since this is a sleep schedule I bring upon myself (what with the hobbies and all and my choice to be a parent, knowing what I was getting into). At least it's not as bad as when the kids were newborns.

So sleep is at a premium, and many days I drag myself into work in a haze and daydream all day about falling into my bed. My wife is home with the kids many days, and has the option sometimes of napping when the kids nap, in the early afternoon. I envy her a bit for that (though being at home with the kids is usually more physically tiring than my work).

So I revel in stories about people sleeping at work. I can think of a couple people at my work who catch a cat nap in their car over lunch. The problem with that plan is that the car may be screaming hot in the summer or frigid in the winter. I've also read about someone who would sleep in the restroom while sitting on the toilet. No one is going to bother you there, but of course this has its obvious downsides! I haven't quite heard of anyone going to the extreme of George Castanza in "Seinfeld", where in one episode he would sleep under his desk, complete with little shelves, pillow, and alarm clock! There is actually a book entitled The Art of Napping at Work, on the subject. Personally, I've only napped a couple of times at work, when I was sick, by putting my head on my desk and closing my door (I'm lucky I have an office to do this!).

There are a couple companies out there that actually encourage employees to take naps in special nap rooms, believing (oddly enough) that a well-rested employee is more productive. What a notion! It's expected in many countries around the world, like around the Mediterranean, but here in the U.S. it is considered a sign of laziness.

Well, now a study shows that working men, and possibly women too, who nap during the day are not only more rested, but are less likely to die an early death from heart attack:

The Greek researchers followed 23,681 healthy Greek adults for six years (siestas are considered normal in Greece). Those who napped at least 3 times a week for about a half hour – get this! – were a whopping 37% less likely to die from heart attack! Wow. Given I have a mild heart condition and that serious heart and circulatory problems run in my family, maybe I should start taking daily siestas, eh?

One possible problem with the study, though, is that highly-stressed individuals (who are therefore more prone to heart attack) may not make time to nap, and less-stressed individuals do, thus skewing the data.

I wonder what my boss would think about me taking a daily nap?

And could I get a note from my doctor mandating that I put a cot in my office and sleep on the job?


denise said...

i came across your blog while trying to figure out how to pronounce "guion". then i had to read the lego thing (my 9 year old is very into his "mindstorm"). "sleeping at work" caught my eye, being a former night-shift ICU nurse. nice blog! i'll be coming back!

Angry Lab Rat said...

Good to have ya, Denise...