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The cost of sleeping on the job

By Nick Easen for CNN

story.vert.sleep.office.afp.jpg
Bedding down by your desk may not be the answer, but using a room for a post-lunch power nap could work.
TIPS FOR AVOIDING SLEEP

1. Get some fresh air
2. Eat a high-protein power lunch
3. Take a caffeine break
4. Get as much sleep as you can
5. Play some music
6. Consider flexitime
7. Manage your stress levels
8. Work in a healthy environment
9. Better fitness improves sleep

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Employees

(CNN) -- There are few office activities that will upset a manager more than when an employee falls asleep at the desk.

Yet with hectic lifestyles, repetitive tasks, stuffy environments and more stress, very few employees are immune to feeling sleepy at some point during the working day.

Sleepy workers can have financial implications as well -- productivity along with worker health can suffer, it may also be a sign of a non-challenged, over-worked or unmotivated workforce.

Japanese firms have addressed the problem, many now provide a room for taking a nap; in China, the law actually guarantees a post-lunch snooze.

And in Spain -- home of the siesta -- business centers have opened up, where for a nominal fee, workers can relax and have a sleep after lunch.

One U.S.-based corporation, the Napping Company actually promotes the benefits of sleeping during the working day, its Web site offers online presentations on workplace sleep strategies and benefits.

Commonplace

The latest surveys also show that there is nothing unusual about feeling sleepy in the office.

One recent online poll of over 21,000 European office workers found that 24 percent had fallen asleep at work, while another 39 percent found it a big challenge at times to stay awake in the office.

"Sleepy workers are a pricey expense for businesses, since their productivity and the quality of their work is negatively affected," says Hernan Daguerre of recruitment company Monster, who conducted the survey.

"Employers should encourage workers to take breaks throughout the day ... overqualified employees will get bored in their jobs much quicker than those who find their work more challenging."

Among those that had fallen asleep at work, the most common spot for a quick snooze was the desk, followed by meeting rooms and then the bathroom.

Another survey last year found a similar situation, specifically among British workers.

The poll, based on over 1,000 interviews, and commissioned by drinks-maker Horlicks, found that one in five UK workers have slept during office hours.

The study estimated that firms paid out an estimated £20 million ($36 million) in wages a year to staff for time spent sleeping.

Whereas in Australia, 38 percent admit to falling asleep during working hours, according to a survey of 425 workers by corporate health specialist, Health Works.

Experts who carried out both studies put office place snoozing down to work-related stress, anxiety and hectic lifestyles. Business travel can also result in sleep problems.

"Sleep is one of the key factors to understanding what stresses an individual," business psychologist Gary Fitzgibbon told CNN.

"When somebody's undergone sleep deprivation ... then you are more susceptible to developing stress."

Allowing workers to have small sleep breaks during the day could also be the answer and benefit employers, according to Neil Stanley, director of sleep research at the University of Surrey, England and chairman of the British Sleep Society.

He believes productivity and performance will improve if employees take a "power nap" after lunch and this is better than when workers just soldier on and productivity plummets.


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