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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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