GREAT GET-AWAYS – IN 30 MINUTES OR LESS

Holly J. Culhane SPHR
January 25, 2008 — 1,692 views  
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We all have our ideal spots for a great get-away – Maui, London, Paris, New York, San Francisco; or something more generic like the mountains or the beach. But, let’s face it, we can’t be jetting off to exotic places every week – or sometimes, even once a decade. These days we all just seem to get busier and busier with the responsibilities of the 21st century – family, work, church, friends, civic duties, school, children’s activities, clubs/organizations, and the list goes on and on. However, research has repeatedly shown that it is extremely important to reduce stress in our lives and relax regularly if we want to maintain our health and be able to enjoy life, and not merely exist from day-to-day. Okay – so easier said than done, right? Let’s explore a quick get-away that can help you refresh yourself and survive that hectic daily routine. You may have seen the news coverage a few weeks ago spotlighting a firm in New York City that is selling … well, they’re selling naps. As crazy as it sounds, Yelo (the name of the company) offers private cubicles where clients can come in and take a “power nap” for 20 minutes or 40 minutes – for a price, of course. Twenty minutes in the napping booth will cost you $12, or you can opt for 40 minutes for $24. For an extra fee, they’ll even throw in a little reflexology. If you want to listen to music, it’s available – but that’s up to each individual. It makes you wonder what we’re coming to – when we’re so desperate that we’ll pay someone to offer us a spot for a nap in the middle of the day! Mind you – the idea isn’t a bad one. In fact, it’s a great idea! Many cultures readily accept the need for a nap between lunch and dinner. Hence, the siesta that is popular in Spanish cultures. In addition, in some Asian countries entire firms take a nap – as one – in the afternoon. Even in western culture, some very well-known figures openly expressed their beliefs in catnaps. Both Thomas Edison and Winston Churchill, to name a couple, were known to engage in regular catnaps every day and insisted this habit greatly increased their productivity. Experts agree that a short nap does indeed rejuvenate the mind, relieve stress, and can help workers be more productive and creative. In fact, a recent study in Greece even demonstrated that adults who nap regularly were 37% less likely to have a heart attack than those who do not take a daily snooze. (Life’s Work, “Some Respect, Please, for the Afternoon Nap,” L. Belkin, 2/25/07) So why do we tend to pooh-pooh the notion that adults need a short rest in the afternoon? As Americans become busier and busier, executives can hardly find time to sleep at night, much less during the day. How many times have you heard people bragging about how little sleep they receive/need? The sad thing is – most of us admire this ability to function when sleep-deprived as it’s become a part of our over-achieving culture. The reality is – when your body is in need of rest, substitutes just don’t cut it. Sure, a caffeinated drink, some chocolate, or a pill may help you keep your eyes open – but it’s simply not going to recharge your system like a short sleep can accomplish. If anything, it merely covers up the symptoms, but the need intensifies. Mona Kapur, manager of Renaissance Sleep Center in Bakersfield, California, explains, “I like to compare the human body to a cell phone. In order to get longer undisrupted usage, the battery needs to be recharged on a regular basis. Similarly, if a person wakes up at 6:00 A.M. after eight hours of sleep and then goes to bed at 10:00 P.M., that’s 16 hours of working and/or constantly keeping busy – whether physically or mentally. Driving home in prime-time traffic, tired after a long work day, is a perfect recipe for accidents. Eight hours of sleep is just not enough for the body to function at full-speed for 16 long hours at a stretch. Therefore, taking a nap for 15-20 minutes during the day is a great way to recharge our bodies. It can definitely help us re-energize our body, de-stress, become more productive, avoid accidents, and reduce risk of health-related problems in the long run. If you have trouble taking naps and/or sleeping, or if you often feel fatigued, you may want to consult a sleep center.” So, what can you do for a quick, restful get-away? Try offering your employees a place for a catnap. After all, workers all get breaks on the job and many would welcome the opportunity to take a short rest. It doesn’t have to be fancy – maybe a room with some small couches and/or a recliner, soft lighting, and soothing sounds. If you have the space, a few individual cubicles might do the trick. Even a closet can work. Perhaps, if you simply refrain from chastising them if they go out to their cars to nap, it could help. Most importantly, it is important to recognize that most of us do not get enough sleep and a 20-minute snooze could be just the ticket to increase productivity in the office. American companies are realizing the importance of balanced employees who nurture the “other” side of life, thereby avoiding “burn-out” that eventually affects all workaholics. Break-rooms around the country are offering more that just coffee, soda, and sugar snacks. Instead, we see fruit, yogurt, and sports power drinks dotting the landscape of the staff room. Many employees are bringing comfortable shoes to work and engaging in walks during the morning or afternoon break time. So, maybe it’s time to add one more “power” offering – along with the power sports drinks, and the power walks, throw in a power nap. And watch your bottom line increase as your employees are rested, and those creative juices start to flow!

Holly J. Culhane SPHR

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Identified the need for human resource and organizational assistance for small- and medium-sized business­es and formed Profes­sional Administra­tive Systems in 1987. Now known as P A S Associates, this firm combines specialists in the fields of human resources, labor and employment law, affirma­tive action, and substance abuse policies and education, providing an unsurpassed Human Resource Center.