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Readers' reactions: Why napping at work is A-OK

If federal employees can play cards, smoke or read during their breaks, why aren’t they allowed to nap? That was the question some readers asked when commenting on my recent blog post on whether Census employees caught napping at work were simply overworked. 

“I don't see the problem of an employee taking a nap during their lunch hour,” Joseph Copsey commented. “Some employees go out for a smoke. Some play cards. Some read a book. How is a nap any different?”

A fellow reader agreed with Joseph and questioned why napping isn’t acceptable when smoke breaks are: 

“I know someone who works at the Census HQ,” commented the reader. “These naps were occurring during employee breaks. So it’s not OK to close your eyes for 15 minutes during a designated break, but there is no problem with going outside half a dozen times a day for a smoke?”

Another reader pointed to other parts of the world where napping is a common practice and mentioned the benefits of a midday snooze.

“In the hotter countries around the Mediterranean, they take a siesta, midday, and nap, since it's too hot anyway,” that reader wrote. “This means they have the energy to work later and stay up late. One hears of ‘power naps.’ ... The model of always being ‘on’ is very exhausting, and a major reason for stress in this country.”

Napping should be allowed, especially in times when the federal workforce is shrinking but the expectations of the end results stay the same, a reader said.

“Federal employees are people too and definitely not overpaid, like the private" sector, that reader said. “A nap is in order while on a break. If arrangements can be made for smokers, which harms the health of humans, then provisions of a nap should be allowed to help federal employees be more rejuvenated and productive.”

Another reader who said he/she was a Census worker offered several reasons as to why his/her colleagues were napping during the day.

“I've been known to fall asleep at work,” that reader commented. “I'm normally sleep deprived and I'm not as young as I used to be. The critical factor is boredom. In spite of my efforts to improve my work situation, I'm often bored and sleep is a normal reaction. Give me interesting work and I'll be alert.”

One reader agreed with the suggestion that feds are overworked and cited also traffic congestion and politicians as reasons why employees are taking naps.

“Are feds not getting enough sleep?” the reader asked. “Yes, with the terrible commuting problem in the D.C. area, people have to head in by 6 a.m. to avoid traffic, or spend 1.5 hrs commuting. I am one of them.  ... Congress needs to resolve the budget by sacrificing programs, not people. Local politicians and Congress need to work together to fund transportation projects (including raising gas taxes) to resolve the traffic problems. I put the blame for sleeping feds squarely on the politicians. It is the end result of bad politics.”

Very few commenters so far have outright disagreed with allowing employees to nap during the day, but one did say, "If they are sleeping on the job, they should not be taking taxpayer tax dollars for it. Get rid of them." 

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Oct 03, 2011 at 12:19 PM

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Reader comments

Wed, Oct 5, 2011

Snort. No matter how tired I was, unless I could find a locked room where my coworkers could not sneak up on me, there is No Way I could take a nap at work.

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 JoeFed

I completely sympathize agree with the person who is completely bored at work. My manager doesn't give me enough to do and really cannot justify having so many employees here. Him and management team have all been here for over 20 years - and nothing from me can possibly be approved, so I can't do much of anything. Each employee needs to be interviewed about their job and employees shifted around to where they are needed!

Wed, Oct 5, 2011

While I see the argument for letting employee's nap while they are off the clock, we do have to remember that the casual observer has no way of knowing if you are on the clock or off the clock. I would not nap at the workplace even when off the clock, just because I know it would give a bad impression. The last thing we need right now is for some vocal journalist, politician or just somebody with an ax to grind to see people napping on break. They aren't going to go to the trouble of finding out whether or not the sleepers are off the clock or not. They will just assume the worst and use it to justify their attacks on the workforce.

Wed, Oct 5, 2011

I work in a place where smokers get a 20 minute smoke break every 2 hours then take an 1 1/2 lunch break. A 10 minute power nap, in my opinion, does not allow enough time to send one into REM sleep. But it does give just enough to refresh someone who is running down. If the break is taken in conjunction with the 30 minutes of the unpaid lunch break then I do not see the issue. On the other hand, this multiple smoking breaks and smoking less than 3 feet from the office in my opinion is not acceptible. But, I suppose that is a separate issue.

Wed, Oct 5, 2011 NYCT

Napping is fine during your break, but when an employee sets up his sleeping chairs first thing in the morning and immediately falls asleep and wakes up three hours later . Now that's pushing it. Supervisors now about this but won't do anything about it only to heckle the person. The sleeping continues.

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