Imagine: It's lunchtime, and you're exhausted. You've been skimping all week on sleep to keep up with tight deadlines at work, household chores and that old thing called a social life. You know you've got another late night ahead of you, so you head off to the office quiet room for a few minutes of shuteye.
The average American works more than nine hours every day, plus an additional four hours of work from home during the week, according to the National Sleep Foundation. In its 2008 Sleep in America Poll, the NSF found that 29 percent of these tired Americans have fallen asleep or at least became very sleepy at work.
"We're a sleep-deprived nation, a workforce full of walking zombies, because we're asking people to do the work of fewer people," says James Maas, Ph.D., former fellow, professor and chairman of psychology at Cornell University, who coined the term "power nap" in his 1998 book Power Sleep. "If we operated a machine like we operate the body, we'd be accused of reckless endangerment."
Now imagine a world in which napping on the job wouldn't only be a thing of sleep-deprived daydreams. While more and more bosses are coming around to the idea of some afternoon shuteye, it's still not exactly widespread, says Lawrence Epstein, M.D., chief medical offer of Sleep HealthCenters and co-author of The Harvard Medical School's Guide to a Good Night's Sleep. Instead, "the misguided opinion that [sleepiness] is a sign of laziness rather than a physiologic reaction" persists, says Epstein.
That could be changing. The NSF estimates that sleepy employees rack up billions of dollars in costs due to lost productivity and sick days, making it in companies' own benefits to provide us all with a few extra minutes during the day to recharge.
Some progressive organizations others like Zappos, Google and Nike have created facilities on campus for employees to use when they need to get some rest, complete with beds, couches, soothing music and other sleep-inducing accessories. Others offer encouraging discounts for services at sleep "spas" like New York City's YeloSpa, which offers private rooms for rent for the purpose of 20- to 40-minute naps.
Full disclosure: Here at The Huffington Post we have two nap rooms of our own, affectionately dubbed Napquest I and Napquest II. But we also don't want to mess with our nighttime sleep (oh, and we've got a website to run), so we asked the experts how to do the daytime nap right. Click through the slideshow below for their best tips.
But first, one very important thing to keep in mind: If you think your employer will not tolerate napping, don't risk it. We're not trying to get you in trouble, we're trying to guide those of you with the opportunity to efficient and rejuvenating sleep.