Is it right to sleep at work? Some experts think we work better if we can close our eyes and have a short rest in the office. So, is it time for bosses to put beds in the workplace?
Rob and Finn discuss the benefits of sleeping on the job.
When the former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was in power, she did her job with very little sleep. Do you know how many hours a night she slept?
a) Three hours
b) Four hours
c) Five hours
Hello I’m Rob. Welcome to 6 Minute English. I’m joined today by Finn. Hello Finn.
Finn? …Hello Finn?
Oh sorry Rob, you caught me napping. It’s that time of day when I need to nod off – or in other words, fall asleep.
Well, sleeping on the job – or sleeping at work – is no bad thing – and I hope today’s programme will wake you up to the idea that sleeping in the workplace might be a good thing.
Oh really! That’s good to hear. I would have thought that sleeping at work was against the rules.
Not in every office, Finn, and I’ll tell you why soon as well as explaining some sleep-related vocabulary. But now you’re wide awake, how about a question?
OK, let’s hear it.
When the former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was in power, she did her job with very little sleep. Do you know how many hours of sleep she is said to have had each night?
a) Three hours
b) Four hours
c) Five hours
I always thought she got by, she managed her job, with just four hours of sleep a night.
Not much, is it? We’ll find out if you are right or wrong later. I’m not sure if she chose not to sleep for long or she just wasn’t able to sleep for long. Someone who can’t sleep is called an insomniac.
And I’m certainly not an insomniac. I enjoy sleeping all night and some of the day too. And Rob, you said napping during the day is a good thing?
It’s always nice to have a short sleep – or what I call 40 winks – during the day, but when you’re at work this can be a problem. In some companies, like Google and the Huffington Post, workplace naps are positively encouraged. They’re seen as a way to make staff more productive.
So you mean they work harder and are more creative because a power-nap – a quick sleep – makes workers feel refreshed and more alert. I like the sound of this!
An Australian health writer called Thea O’Connor, is a founder of a campaign called Nap Now which is trying to make sleeping at work more acceptable. She calls herself a ‘naptivist‘! Let’s hear from her now. What does she stay is stopping us from doing this?
Thea O’Connor, health writer and speaker:
I think that our culture is a bit crazy not to embrace it, and one of the reasons we don’t is our attitude, you know it’s quite counter-cultural to do nothing in order to get ahead. I just really see that it’s time to disrupt the prevailing work ethic which is all about work longer and harder.
Right, so she wants us to embrace – to accept – the idea of a workplace power-nap. But it is our attitude – the way we think about work – that stops society from accepting this.
Yes, she explains that it is counter-cultural – so going against the normal way of thinking – to actually do nothing and have a snooze.
That’s why she is trying to change – or disrupt – our current work ethic of working longer and harder. She believes this doesn’t necessarily bring better results. But Rob, is this idea just a fad – something that’s popular for a short while?
Maybe, but research has certainly shown that good quantity and quality of sleep is important for our wellbeing. A few years ago research by the East of England Development Agency found 30% of people have their best ideas in bed compared to just 11% who have them at their desk. It called for companies to install beds in the workplace.
Well, there aren’t any in our office yet Rob. I think putting beds or areas for naps in the office would help us workers feel more able to rest and recharge our minds.
An alternative idea would be to change our working hours. The UK’s Sleep Council claims the nine-to-five work culture does not fit into the natural sleeping pattern of the human race and bosses need to introduce a more sleep-friendly working day.
That sounds like a siesta to me – a short period of sleep in the middle of the day that people in warm places like Spain often have.
My problem with a siesta is that if I have a sleep in the afternoon I’d never wake up!
Well before you nod off now Rob, could you please tell me the answer to today’s question.
Yes. I asked you if you knew how many hours of sleep the former British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, is said to have had each night? Three, four or five hours?
I said four hours Rob.
You are right. It has often been said she needed just four hours of sleep – only on weekdays, not weekends.
Well before you have another power-nap, could you remind us of some of the vocabulary we’ve heard today:
Yes, we heard:
sleeping on the job
Thanks. We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s programme. Please join us again soon for another 6 Minute English from BBC Learning English.
Vocabulary and definitions
napping – sleeping for a short period of time
(to) nod off – to fall asleep
sleeping on the job – sleeping when you should be working
insomniac – a person who has difficulty falling sleep
40 winks – (informal) nap for a short period of time
power-nap – a short sleep that gives you energy
naptivist – a made-up name for someone who actively campaigns for napping at work
attitude – opinion or feeling about something
counter-cultural – opposite to what most people think or do
work ethic – belief about how we should work
wellbeing – feeling of being happy and health
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