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Sleeping on the job: The rise of nap rooms

Saturday - 3/23/2013, 10:42am  ET

Randi Martin, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - We are a tired nation.

"Oh boy are we ever," says Steve Scharf, medical director at the University of Maryland Sleep Disorders Center.

"The sun goes down, it's television all night long, it's computers, it's cleaning, cooking, taking care of the kids, whatever it is," he says. "We are clearly sleep deprived."

Companies such as Nike, Zappos, Ben and Jerry's, Google and The Huffington Post recognize that work productivity and creativity can be hampered by a constant lack of sleep and have responded by installing quiet, comfortable naps rooms.

The naps rooms are being used for 15 to 30 minute naps during the afternoon when employees hit a wall. One of the sleepiest times of the day is 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., and the other is 3 a.m. to 5 a.m. -- when most people are sleeping -- according to Scharf.

Without proper sleep, people lose the ability to concentrate, think through situations and maintain an attention span, Scharf says. Sleep deprived people are also less able to regulate their emotions.

Companies who want their employees to be efficient and happy are transforming closets or small areas into nap rooms complete with comfortable recliners or couches, which Scharf supports.

"I think it's a great idea to go in for a 10 to 15 minute power nap immediately after lunch in the mid to late afternoon," Scharf says. "I think it's a terrific idea, and it does a lot of good."

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