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Take Naps at Work (nytimes.com)
523 points by aarohmankad on June 28, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 277 comments

For the last 8 years at work, I napped for 12-40 minutes basically every afternoon. I headed out into the parking lot and slept in the back of my car. (I bought the model I own after testing to make sure the back was nappable.)

My most productive, creative time was the hour or two in the late afternoon following the nap.

All my co-workers knew the deal and so did my boss. Nobody else napped, but my napping was normal and accepted.

The idea of giving that up if I ever go back to a "normal" butts-in-seats company seems stupid and uncivilized.

> My most productive, creative time was the hour or two in the late afternoon following the nap.

This has also been my experience. I often take naps around the same time and find that the nap calms me naturally and sort of distances me from any anxieties surrounding a problem I'm trying to tackle. This makes it much easier to work at it some more.

Separately I noticed that if I have any symptoms of depression (usually thoughts of despair), a nap like that can by itself often completely reverse the situation. Surprised, I did some research and was interested to find how much a lack of proper rest is associated with depression. So now the first item on my "feeling depressed" checklist is "try to take a nap".

Incidentally, one of the (many) recommended none pharma treatments to depression is to stay awake for one night (don't go to bed at all), then go to bed the next night as usual (similar to jetlag prevention strategies I suppose). The idea is that the extreme tiredness when you do go to sleep resets your circadian rhythms and ensures deep rest. I've tried it, and it does kinda help.

For anyone interested -- this model is called Wake therapy.



> In the new study, published online January 15 in the journal Translational Psychiatry, the scientists investigated whether this process is responsible for the antidepressant effects of sleep deprivation. Mice with depressivelike symptoms were administered three doses of a compound that triggers adenosine receptors, thus mimicking sleep deprivation. Although the mice continued to sleep normally, after 12 hours they showed a rapid improvement in mood and behavior, which lasted for 48 hours.

> The results confirm that the adenosine buildup is responsible for the antidepressant effects of a lack of sleep. This finding points to a promising target for new drug development because it suggests that mimicking sleep deprivation chemically may offer the antidepressant benefits without the unwanted side effects of actually skipping sleep. Such an intervention could offer immediate relief from depression, in stark contrast with traditional antidepressants, which take six to eight weeks to kick in.

Curious if it'll be mimicked somehow in the form of drugs in the future.

This is reassuring. I've done this a lot over the years, and found I enjoy life a lot more when I do this intermittently.

Interesting, as Modafinil has (one of many) mechanisms of action of reuptaking intracellular adenosine; and is also a mild anti-depressant

Although I've noticed that the come down for me feels like the comedown off some anti-anxiety medicines or amphetamines. It certainly works as a mild anti-depressant while the drug is working.

This is interesting, but isn't it a purely acute effect?

Like, you stop feeling better around the time you stop feeling dazed and exhausted. I can see the urge to get it into drug form, it's impressively powerful, but it looks like the mechanism of action and the mechanism of the side effects are both adenosine.

It would be handy in pill form, because keeping my eyes open for that long was quite tedious.

Anecdotally, I've done exactly this using amphetamine, 1,3-DMBA and modafinil. The former mainly because I couldn't sleep (due to taking it for recreational reasons) and just decided keep going until the next night (not taking any more, of course!) to not screw up my sleeping pattern too badly. It definitely does have some interesting effects mentally, though using stimulants to induce it has its downsides due to screwing with chemicals and complex biological systems!

And taking the kind of pill that keeps you awake is probably counterproductive :)

How do you resist not sleeping the next day? I know I would be exhausted the afternoon with little capacity for rational thought, and likely pass out by 7-8 PM, ruining the attempt.

Passing out by 7 or 8 is rather the point - you sleep a long time and deeply after the sleepless night, waking up with your head in a better place.

I can attest somewhat to the efficacy of the practice; in younger days I did it myself on occasion, and found it often to have the beneficial effect described upthread - as well as, on the day after the sleepless night, an interesting and generally useful upsurge of sidewise and creative thought that tended to produce ideas I could capture and usefully follow up on later, after the sleepful second night.

On the other hand, younger days being now behind me, I'm no longer able to miss a night's sleep and remain awake, much less productive, on the day following. So it goes.

I found that when I do all-nighters (although it's been a while since I've done one), I get a "second wind" of sorts from mid morning until late afternoon. So if I want to make sure I don't go to bed too early, it's only really the last two hours that are hard, although they can be very hard (especially since you don't want to drink caffeine or anything like that since that would affect the sleep quality).

Fresh air and light exercise help me during those last hours, but it can be mentally difficult to force myself to doing that.

Again, it's been a while since I've done it, so it may have been a symptom of being a bit younger. Maybe I wouldn't be able for it now...

Similar to you, I try to go for a hike/long walk in the morning/afternoon when I get to struggling with sleepiness (while attempting to make it to the next evening of an all-nighter).

My strategy would be to constantly change "stimulus" to keep my self active and awake. I'd try reading for a bit, then of course I start to go foggy and you get a headache from focusing on the text. Then I'd play video games for a bit, then watch a film, then a documentary, then go for a walk, then do some work.

I found switching activities every 45 minutes or so kept me sufficiently engaged.

This will work especially well for depressions caused by low dopamine levels, because one night of sleep deprivation causes your dopamine level to go up.


Interesting. I naturally gravitated towards both of those methods!

When I feel lots of anxiety that can't go away, I'll take a nap - there's a good chance it'll reset my "anxiety counter", letting me deal with whatever issue that was stressing me out. When I'm low on mood / even more anxious, I'll stay awake for one night - the extreme tiredness attenuates the anxiety, and at the end of the next day, I get a good sleep and wake up in a better mood.

> the extreme tiredness attenuates the anxiety

Can confirm. My morning anxiety (I got nervous when I had to leave the house) has gotten better since I started sleeping only 4-5 hours per night and stopped drinking coffee in the morning.

I don't know why but the minute I get horizontal my imagination wakes up.

Yes! Considering that the same thing happens when I take a shower (sometimes) and when I meditate (usually), and that both of these are vertical in nature (usually), I think it's primarily to do with letting your brain 'rest'. Mindfulness and all that jazz.

I don't know what your life is like, but for me that's definitely the most likely explanation. When I'm not showering, meditating, or horizontal in bed, it usually means I'm reading something, watching something, working on something, or engaging actively in an internal monologue (that usually is more about reducing variables and maintaining control or the illusion of it, and less about creativity).

The moment my brain gets some free time, and there's nothing acute to worry about, ideas start to appear and I get excited.

Not a biologist or neurologist, but my hypothesis for this is ease of blood flow to the brain while horizontal.

Nah, it's not that simple. It cannot be that simple (but that's just my intuition of course). I do have a different mindset when my blood flow it strong after sport but it doesn't kick the creativity. On the other hand, travelling, or even taking the train, does trigger the wonder-sense.

> It cannot be that simple @agumonkey

Occam's Razor: The (simplest) explanation with the fewest assumptions tends to be the correct one.

It's almost always that simple.

Also, when you're travelling or on the train, and your wonder sense opens, you are relaxed. Less constriction to the arteries and blood vessels. As with lying horizontal, increased blood flow activates the brain.

There's simple and simple. In biology the number of dimensions is large, which one is simplified ? blood flow ? visual stimulus ? change of locus (again more stimulus since memories cannot help parsing reality).

Yup, when I feel bad it's time to go to sleep. I haven't thought about napping to get rid of it, good idea.

same here...

I worked for a very small startup in London that embraced napping as part of their culture, some 8 years ago. It worked wonders (provided that you napped for 15-30 minutes at a time and didn't pass out for an hour or two). We even had a dark storage room with a sofa that was the designated nap area.

Fast forward to the current day. That company no longer exists (it was acquired), but the co-founders went on to create another company that is doing very well. I made the decision to go freelance at the end of last year and as fate would have it I am currently working for the new company. Napping is still encouraged. They're one of the most productive, driven teams that I've ever had the pleasure of working for.

Napping is good.

How do you ensure that you sleep exactly 15-30 minutes, when falling asleep could take anywhere between 0-30 minutes?

It's tricky, but there are a few options.

- Gold standard: this is a perfect use case for sleep tracking. "Wake me in the sooner of 1 hour or 30 minutes of sleep".

- Upper bound timing. If I can't start a nap within 15-20 minutes, it's probably one I don't need. So a timer set for 35 min would suffice to get me some reasonable duration. This fails if you might need 30+ minutes.

- Caffeine naps. Drink a cup of coffee, start your nap, you'll be up in <40 minutes as the caffeine hits. This doesn't guarantee you'll get a lengthy nap, but it helps ensure you don't wake up groggy.

- Practice. I struggle to nap currently because it's not routine, I usually can't sleep quickly unless I'm exhausted. But I spent a good 6 months getting healthy sleep amounts with a daily nap, and I was usually out within 5 minutes when it was expected.

Glad to see I'm not the only one using the "Caffeine nap." I was lucky enough to work in a place that actually had a dedicated nap room that I utilized regularly. It was a holdover from the old astronomy days when astronomers would spend long hours on site to complete their research.

do you feel ok afterwards? coffee makes me sleepy sometimes, somehow, but sleeping on caffeine doesn't make me refreshed at all.

Do you have AD(H)D? Caffeine-induced sleepiness (or non-stimulation) is a pretty distinctive sign of that. If so, I'd discount all caffeine-related tips from people who don't.

But in any event: if the coffee has affected you, you're already too late. The idea is to sleep immediately after consuming your caffeine, then wake up as/before it starts to affect you. If caffeine makes you sleepy instead of wakeful, that's probably going to be less pleasant because you won't wake up refreshed.

Finally: I suspect the sleep is helping but feeling useless. Adenosine is one chemical that makes you feel sleepy, and levels are reduced while you sleep. But caffeine is an adenosine blocker, so it's going to stop you feeling that adenosine sleepiness without disposing of it. Good sleep while caffeinated is probably hard to get, but if you succeeded I expect you would lower adenosine levels, but not feel the difference until the caffeine wore off.

I prefer to pretend that I don't have anything to diagnose, it's some "irrational personality" quirkiness, but yeah, my attention span is extremely short, 10 minutes on the single task, which is kinda a problem in programming world. Maybe. I don't feel sleepiness every time I drink coffee, it's highly correlated with how tired I am, but I feel changes in my body and mood almost before I finish the cup. I didn't realize that some people can get a nap before caffeine kicks in before that post.

When people talk about napping (as in this article, and these discussions), when someone says "nap for 30 minutes" do they mean actually SLEEP for 30 minutes?

Sometimes it can take me 30 minutes just to get to a point, where I might fall asleep! And another 10 to actually fall asleep!

So are these articles actually advocating that someone like me should "nap" for a total of 70 minutes? (40 to fall asleep mid-day, 30 actually sleeping)

As someone who was in sleep therapy for chronic insomnia, the golden rule is if you can't fall asleep in 20min or less, get up. You aren't doing yourself any favors by lying in bed frustrated for an hour or more.

The most dangerous thing related to sleep hygiene is creating unpleasant associations with sleep and your bed. If you're lying in bed for long periods getting pissed off, anxious, etc... Your brain will remember these emotions next time you're trying to get some rest and they will keep you from sleeping.

It sounds like hippy shit but it's super important to think of your bed like a fluffy cloud of dreams and wonders. Don't do anything in your bed except sleep & fuck or you will start associations that won't help.

Yes, 30 minutes nap.

It takes practice, routine and the actual need for a nap, to fall asleep immediately, though.

I'm pretty sure they mean lie down for 30 minutes. I'll often only get a brief period of mental shut down on a 35 minute timer, but it helps a lot. Think of it as rebooting your machine :)

Also, you can learn to fall asleep faster with practice.

I have no idea how to practice that... Any resources you might recommend?

It's way easier after you eat. Or at least it's way easier after I eat.

I might be sleep deprived, but sometimes I'll go to the car for 15 minutes and be pulled out of a deep dream by the time the timer goes off.

Even if I don't fall asleep, just focus on your breathing, slow in slow out, and try to bring yourself back to that focus if your mind ever wanders. You'll likely be more rested regardless of whether your actually fall asleep.

According to the book 'Night School' by Richard Wiseman, just lying down for a nap, even if you don't manage to sleep, is still beneficial.

When you get into some routine it's pretty predictable. I like the pzizz app for timing and nap enhancement.

If you just set your timer for when you want to wake up and close your eyes, you'd be amazed how quickly you can doze off. For me it helps if it is dark, quiet, and cool.

Its all part of learning to listen to your body. My body tells me when it needs a nap, my thinking process gets cloudier, I have a harder time focusing. Time for a nap!

I can usually go to sleep with 5 minutes, if I can't, then I don't need a nap!

I set a timer for 20 minutes and get up when it goes off regardless. Sleeping for 30 minutes or more makes me feel tired when I wake up, and takes much longer to recover.

Was it called The Twentieth Century Motor Company?

I knew a guy who refused to take a nap. Even if it costed him an afternoon of fighting gravity, trying to stay awake browsing websites and feeling utter guilt for wasting the whole afternoon. To him, napping was morally wrong, period. Something I can understand to a poing, if one guy allows himself to sleep while others are sweating it's bad. But he could nap 20 minutes, and enjoy creativity/productivity for hours and even stay 20 min longer (at the same hourly rate) after to pay back his employer so the numbers check out.

If your boss and coworkers new about it, why didn't they provide you with space inside the building to take naps? It's stupid having to walk outside and nap in your car. Google has special quiet rooms where people can go take naps and relax during the day.

I think quiet rooms or rest spaces are difficult to maintain when there's too few people using them.

At one company it ended up being a temporary closet room with printer supply and all kind of stuff people randomly tossed in to clear the way. At my current company there's so few people using it it smells dusty and closeted to the point it's unusable to relax.

ad-hoc places worked better for me, like small meeting rooms that are unused at noon, actual storage rooms that are actually very clean and tidy compared to temporary ones, or even a park bench when weather is nice enough

One of the reasons I like to come to work late and leave late - in the evening there's always a conference room available to hide in and do some productive work, and there's even a good chance that by 5PM, all my cow-orkers will be gone, so I'll have the whole office room for myself to either work or take a nap first and then continue to ~8 PM.

My SO doesn't approve of this schedule though, so I do this only on days we're not going to see each other.

Google being Google is a bit different, but I'm sure there are a lot of companies where some low-productive employees who've been checking Facebook all day will point fingers at you for sleeping during the butt-sit hours.

I nap in my car. There's not a single nappable spot at my company. And my car is 20 seconds away.

First, not all companies have the finances of Google. Then, offices are still busy when you take your nap. I do mine, in the open space and there is always conversations or movements around, but after a few minutes I don't hear them anymore. Usually I put a 15min alarm and wake after 12min, sometimes I need 30min.

I think the argument FOR napping is the financial one; if 20 minutes of napping gives more than 20 minutes of productivity/efficiency afterwards (which turns out it does, backed by numerous academic studies), then it is worth it.

There's a few things in American culture, in particular, working against it though: our backwards cultural attitude that sleeping is considered "lazy" (USA is one of the most sleep-deprived population) and the fact that working on little sleep is falsely considered a "badge of honor," even though the occurrence of mistakes made by workers is MUCH higher when said workers are sleep deprived.

Good points -- I agree that your suggestions would be optimal for nap-friendly companies.

At this particular workplace, it took 90 seconds or so for me to walk from my desk to my car, so it wasn't a big deal. I was also used to the routine, and preferred the certainty that no one would ever walk in on me.

Would you run the AC?

Sometimes. Managing that issue was definitely something I thought about, and it affected where I parked and what direction I would point my parked car to avoid the sun. Usually I just rolled the windows down a few inches, though, instead of running the AC. I live in a temperate area and I have more tolerance for temperature swings than some. And I was usually setting my alarm for 20 minutes, so I wouldn't be there that long.

I feel guilt for this where I work. It gets to 120f outside here during the summer. It's not great to run the car for just ac, but I benefit from the alone time.

Cars consume very limited amounts of fuel idling so you shouldn't feel guilt for that anymore than you should feel guilt for driving to a restaurant on the way home.

Just avoid doing this in a closed space like a garage, because carbon monoxide can kill you... Otherwise I also use my car as a "calm down" place (for 5-10 mins before coming home, about 5 minutes away from my home), or before having a meeting and so on. Sometimes also for the naps (during work or after work).

For some reason my brain thinks it's dangerous to run the AC when the car is stationary. I don't think this is the case and I'm complecting it with something else - is anyone able to shed some light?

How do you think it is dangerous? ACs do not emit any gases themselves, so except for the CO2 produced by the engine to keep it running it should not be dangerous.

I think CO and CO2 are what I'm thinking of. Maybe if you sat in your car in the garage...?

CO and CO2 produced by the engine is going to come out of the exhaust at the back. Your AC will take in air from the front of the car. In a parking lot or other well ventilated areas, I don't see a big cause for concern.

Also modern cars produce orders of magnitude less emissions its actually somewhat difficult to kill yourself with one now, you essentially have to run a hose from the tailpipe to the cabin.

You still have an engine that is producing a certain amount of power, and this is associated with a minimum rate of production of CO2. Some of the other interesting emissions are greatly reduced in modern engines, but the CO2 production hasn't fallen that much.

I was just going off what I heard from a EMT to be honest, he said those types of suicides were much more successful early in his career.

I work just across the corridor from one of those Google nap rooms, but I don't feel right going inside. And then I end up nodding off in front of my monitor.

But I must say that this only only happens when (a) I am doing something boring and (b) I didn't get much sleep at home. So while cat napping at work is probably better than fighting it, it is more a mitigation strategy than a preferred option.

Providing a quiet, disruption-free and hygienic environment for employees to sleep in seems like quite the commitment to make. I'm all for it, and can just the same understand why it would not happen in most environments.

I can see how taking a break from the regular grind can help things, but not sure that naps are really the answer. Going to a buddy's office to shoot the breeze, or taking a walk around the block seem equally beneficial.

More or less the same here. My average nap time is around 15 minutes. Then I need 5 min. or so to fully recover the awareness, and I feel completely reenergized. My nap is almost becoming a daily pattern now so I feel sleepy in afternoon even if I don't eat. I have no overtime either. Thanks to my employer who's understanding of this.

Out of curiosity which car did you get that was nap friendly (if you don't mind sharing?)?

A Prius. With the back seat half down, I fit just well enough. There are certainly other vehicles that would be better, but the Prius was adequate and nap-friendliness was only one of the criteria used to evaluate potential vehicles.

During my early consulting career, i'd often nap around 6pm before returning to work. I had different rental cars each week and almost any car works -- just recline the front seat all the way back and make sure to keep a pillow and eye-covers.

Whatever you do, don't get a Jeep Wrangler, unless it's a four-door model or one of the longer wheelbase ones...

That's one of the main reasons I signed up for the gym. The other being the showers. I can bike to work and take a coffee nap in a hammock after lunch.

My old gym used to have "sleep pods" in a darkened room. I'd go for a half hour sleep at lunchtimes some days. Fanatastic, but they renovated the gym and removed them, and I canceled my membership.

Wow, your gym has hammocks?

Only 2... no one seems to use them. They also have sun loungers by the pool which are well suited for napping.

I did exactly the same. Not on a regular basis though, but on days when work was tiring I used to head out to the parking lot and sleep in the back of my car. Typically 20 min. That made me much more productive than I should have been w/o the nap.

When one of my co-workers found out, he started borrowing my car keys (he didn't own a car then) to sleep in my car :) - apparently, he thought it was a great idea.

Why don't you do it anymore?

What car do you have? I tried to nap in the back of my Civic once, but it wasn't successful. Partly I felt self conscious that someone might come near my car and see me, though.

I'm not the original poster, but I used to do this in my minivan. When the weather was right, it was perfect.

When I worked in China (5000 engineer company) we'd have our lunch in the canteen, I found that many returned to their desk for the last 15 minutes of their lunch break.

Out came the pillows, all lights were dimmed and calming music played through the PA system. No-one spoke, made noise during this time; quick power nap of 15 minutes did the trick for a lot of people. Definitely something I approve of; I've a small mattress in my office just for such occasions.

Curious if you were able to do the same? From what I've seen asians have this ability to pretty much sleep anywhere, planes, trains, buses anything. The crappy chairs and noisy engines don't seem to bother them.

I don't think I could ever fall asleep in the lunch break, the morning coffee and the light outside doesn't let my brain go off.


I really don't mean to offend anyone, just curious whether the ability to fall asleep in uncomfortable environments is something asian-specific.

It's an acquired skill, being able to sleep anywhere. Military people tend to acquire it by necessity, Asians seem to have cultural reasons for it.

It's not too hard to acquire it with some practice, every time you feel like it would be a good time to have a nap, close your eyes and try to have a nap. For a while, you won't actually get to sleep, you'll just be lying or sitting there with closed eyes, but after trying for a while, you'll actually start napping or sleeping.

These days, if I'm a passenger in a vehicle for a > 30 minute trip, you're almost guaranteed to find me sleeping.

One thing I've noticed is that people in the UK are way more considerate about and sensitive to noise whereas the opposite is true to Asians.

Go to China and the level of ambient noise is much higher, whether that is people talking louder or having no qualms playing music from their phone speakers at any time of the day.

So at a guess, I think that cultural conditions probably lend themselves to people of Asian heritage learning to sleep under noisier conditions. Of course, these are all anecdata and generalisations so ymmv - fwiw, my personal observations are somewhat in line with yours.

I cannot comment about Asian culture but conditioning does have a large part to play in how people sleep.

Personal anecdote: when I grew up my parents lived on a busy main road so I was used to sleeping in noisy conditions. I then moved to a quiet village - I love how silent it is on a night - but I now cannot sleep in hotels nor anywhere else unless it's absolutely silent.

Agreed, I am comfortable (almost too much so) sleeping anywhere.

They say in the army, your survival is predicated on being able to catch a wink wherever possible.

As for sleeping in quiet places, one thing I've noticed is that my tinnitus is only audible when I am not in a city, as such there have been times where I remember I have tinnitus and am temporarily unable to sleep because of it.

Please do not generalize. Japanese people are extremely considerate about not making noise / being loud.

Indeed they are. I immediately corrected myself in a self-reply.

I find it to be very curious how in one country, blasting music at 3am on a train is fair game, while just a stone's throw away over the pond it is a social faux pas to have your mobile phone ring on public transport, let alone answer the call...

Though "Asian" heritage (assuming an implicit East before Asian) would include Japanese and Korean culture, both of whom are comparatively considerate of noise, at least in social contexts.

That would prove to be an interesting "control" but I have less anecdata to draw from there...

There's nothing about "asian" genetics that causes this, but my experience in Taiwan, China, and Japan showed me that people in those countries typically don't get 8 hours of sleep every night, more like 5-6. It's ubiquitous, so do it your whole life and you get good at functioning with less sleep than it has been demonstrated humans need, and you also get good at making up the difference with turbo power naps.

I wouldn't say it's about Asia so much as Anglophones are notable for not taking siestas. Aside from China, it's pretty common in much of southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Latin America.

Is it, though? I'm from sourthern Europe, and nobody I know under 70 takes daily naps. Even in Spain, where they take long lunch breaks supposedly for taking siestas, only 16% of the adult population actually does so, according to a large study.

Try to take some commuter trains in London, or buses, and you'll find plenty of people napping. At one job I preferred to take the bus to the tube even though the tube would be faster, because I enjoyed the longer unbroken nap.

There's even a comedy sketch (don't remember with who) about how London commuters are seemingly able to enter the tube, grab hold of one of the bars, and proceed to seemingly sleep standing for the exact right number of stops.

> sleep ... for the exact right number of stops

The trick is that you learn to automatically "wake up" everytime the bus (or train) stops. It's almost subconscious, your eyes blink 1-2 times to check where you are. And if it's the last station before you have to get out you get a small adrenaline boost :D

Relatively few of the people with whom I share my afternoon light-rail commute appear to be of Asian extraction, and a fair number of us will tend to nap for part or all of our trips along the route. So, no, I don't think you need to be of any particular descent in order to sleep on such a conveyance. You just need to be tired.

I took advantage of eating out in the local eateries and avoided the canteen food; it was rare enough that I was back 15 minutes before I was meant to. :D

Just curious what made you think that is a pattern? I lived in an Asian country until few years ago and I think it is just a misinterpretation maybe just the people you came across were so

That is called a stereotype judgment.

Yes, I experienced that too. It was at ZTE in Shanghai. They'd all pull out bunks and airbeds from under their desks. I thought it was a fantastic idea, with one downside: the reason it was mandatory was that everyone was expected to work until late in the evening.

Yeah; I was to start work at 8.30am; checked in with a swipe card; even if I had to stay till 3am(working US hours) I still had to be back at work by 8.30am. Suffered complete burn out by the time I turned 25.

>Sleeping on the job is one of those workplace taboos — like leaving your desk for lunch

What kind of company is it a taboo to leave your desk for lunch?

My company does this thing where all of the people in IT go out to get food together in sync, and then bring it back and eat in the conference room like it's a cafeteria and like they're back in school.

I'm the only person who leaves the office during my lunch hour, alone. I get funny looks, and my coworkers sometimes ask me "where have you been?"

It's a weird company culture and I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to put up with it.

"I get funny looks, and my coworkers sometimes ask me "where have you been?""

You may be over analyzing it. Are you sure its not just small talk, like "where did you go for lunch, was it any good?" Talking about restaurants and food is one of the most popular conversation topics at my office.

> You may be over analyzing it.

I'd say it would depend on the tone and body language in which it was said; the words themselves, "where have you been?", could easily take on multiple meaning depending on inflection and delivery.

It could be small talk, and maybe it might be a cultural difference, but the words alone (without taking inflection, etc into account) sound accusatory to me; if they were really wanting to know where their coworker had gone to lunch, and whether it was any good or whatnot, I would think they would phrase it closer to what you wrote, rather than what the OP has stated.

I know of a startup that does group lunch every day. Even the remote people join (through Hangouts). I found it pleasant... It strengthens the team _and_ forces everyone to take their eyes away from a screen, slow down, and get out of the weeds. They go on a group hike every afternoon for the same reason.

I don't know how long they'll be able to keep it up as they grow, but I thought it was great.

I hate stuff like this. I don't want to be forced to "take my eyes off the screen" when I'm in the middle of fixing something difficult or important. For fuck's sake. Not only is it patronizing and paternalistic, it defeats the whole purpose of coming to work in the first place, which, for me, is to get shit done. I'm perfectly capable of knowing and understanding my own limits, and I have my own techniques to "sharpen the saw," so to speak. I might take a power nap, or a walk or quick jog outside.

As an introvert, being around people socially at work like this drains the hell out of me. Sure, I can put on a happy face for the meeting, but it'll also take me an extra hour or two to recharge afterwards. Which is purely wasted time.

How is it "strengthening the team" when any introvert there is surely wishing they could just do their job without these sorts of social interruptions? These extrovert-centric assumptions drive me crazy, including at my current job.

Just because this sort of social extroversion makes YOU feel more connected, please don't assume that everyone else feels the same way. I feel FAR more connected to the team quietly working on difficult projects without interruption. If I wanted to socialize I'd do it on my own time and in my own way.

Strongly agree with this. I showed this thread to my coworkers and they sneered at the assumption that our lives are to be built around our jobs and the people at them. Don't get me wrong, we really enjoy each other and our jobs, but if our boss decided one day this was the new norm, we'd quit so fast our own necks would break running for the door...

> I showed this thread to my coworkers and they sneered at the assumption that our lives are to be built around our jobs and the people at them.

In your and your coworker's situation, and the parent's situation - this may be the case - but I'd argue that it is the exception for most people and most job situations.

It is one of the driving arguments (stated or not) behind the resistance to the concept of "universal basic income" (UBI) and instead the rallying for "more jobs" (speaking from the perspective of the USA here, I don't really know what the situation is like elsewhere - I have feelings that it varies depending on the culture).

I believe that most people do build their lives around their work, and the people at them. They work with these people for a long part of their weekdays; then they go home usually to a family (children, spouse, pets) and may not have much interaction with other people who are friends (maybe a phone chat occasionally - and perhaps the rare get together). They look at their coworkers as their peer and friend group.

Unfortunately, that also brings all the baggage and strife with it such social situations can lead to. It is likely what fosters and aggravates the petty office politics and group dynamics - perhaps part of what leads to worse situations. This all can seem odd to people who are introverts and don't build their lives around their work environment, but it doesn't seem to be the norm.

That's all my opinion, and I could very well be wrong, its just based on what I have seen and experienced over my decades of employment. For what it's worth, I'm fairly introverted myself, but I also try to understand my coworkers (specifically and in the general sense) and their views on work/life, which is why I have come to these conclusions (right or wrong as the case may be, I suppose).

>> I'd argue that it is the exception for most people and most job situations.

It probably is and I feel fortunate that I found a job that allows me to be what I consider human. I feel like the alternate situations that "force a family" upon an employee to be somewhat cruel, but I'm a fairly anti-social person for what it is worth. Maybe I mean "nonsocial"? I will leave that as an exercise for the reader.

> I believe that most people do build their lives around their work, and the people at them. They work with these people for a long part of their weekdays; then they go home usually to a family (children, spouse, pets) and may not have much interaction with other people who are friends (maybe a phone chat occasionally - and perhaps the rare get together). They look at their coworkers as their peer and friend group.

Oh yeah, the grind! I dropped out of college when I started to sense this was where my life was headed and if my former friend group is any indicator, I dodged the figurative bullet.

> That's all my opinion, and I could very well be wrong, its just based on what I have seen and experienced over my decades of employment.

You're totally right, I just reject it as the end-all-be-all and won't settle for such an outcome. Thanks for your point of view.

I don't know, i would see myself as fairly introverted but i like the team i am working with and having lunch with them together is usually fun. There is no force though, i don't have to do it. Some of my coworkers also became friends, so i hardly see it as "team building" but i guess it benefits the team too. You seem pretty isolated from your team, which probably makes you leave earlier than people who are well connected within the team, so it's clear why Founders encourage this.

I worked remotely for a couple of years and now realized how much more i enjoy work when i have other developers around, otherwise i would lead a pretty lonely live.

>You seem pretty isolated from your team, which probably makes you leave earlier than people

I become obsessed and enthralled with the work itself, sometimes to the point of wanting to work 12-16 hour days to solve deeper problems that are bothersome. Working short days has never been an issue for me. This is exactly what I mean by projection. You would want to leave early if you felt isolated. But I enjoy it and want to stay longer.

>I worked remotely for a couple of years and now realized how much more i enjoy work when i have other developers around, otherwise i would lead a pretty lonely live.

This is not "fairly introverted." What you are describing is a textbook example of "fairly extroverted." You enjoy working around others and begin to feel lonely otherwise. I generally don't, in either case.

By leaving earlier i meant the job as a whole, because on average people that tend to isolate themselves from the team are less invested in the vision of the product and the team, which is why founders usually do these crap events (which i hate too). Not saying this is the case for you, it's just what i've seen in the past.

I am definitely not extroverted, i get nervous before meetings and team building events and they drain a lot of my energy and concentration during the day. It's just when working remotely for years, sometimes i didn't talk to anyone for days and that can get unhealthy after some time. I also just enjoy discussing technical issues with coworkers.

Not saying you are doing it wrong, god forbid. In my early thirties now I definitely would not work 12-16hour days anymore as an employee without being a shareholder though.

>It's just when working remotely for years, sometimes i didn't talk to anyone for days and that can get unhealthy after some time.

Sure, I agree with you there, and I never go days without talking to anyone. I just don't especially need to talk to many people at work. Just read my code, it's all there.

>In my early thirties now I definitely would not work 12-16hour days anymore as an employee without being a shareholder though.

Why? Sitting at home is more boring, I have more influence at work and the changes I roll out have more impact. Plus I tend to learn more on the job, become more crucial at the company, develop more skills, yada yada.

> Why? Sitting at home is more boring

True, but i'd like to spend my freetime on my own projects and am trying to finish a CS degree part time. Combined with my learning at home, i am doing 12hour days, but I wouldn't spend all that time at the company i work for right now. Also my girlfriend wouldn't approve ;)

> "...any introvert there is surely wishing..."

The founder whose idea this was is an introvert, and so are many others on the team, all of whom chose to work there knowing about this.

It's not very useful to give yourself and others a binary label and then use it to assume people's behaviors, desires, habits, etc.

For someone who gets anxiety about judgment from others for what they eat (and what they don't), this would be absolutely horrifying.

The remote people don't get to take their eyes off the screen...

Wat. What kind of an adult doesn't have stuff to do on lunch? I usually do some of these: work out, get my dry cleaning, run home to grab packages, make lunch, take a nap, shower real quick after a work out, go to the dentist, etc. If I was purely locked in to 45 hours a week with my coworkers id be job hunting.

What about adults having shorter hours? Standard work-week in my country is 37.5 hours. If I were so cramped on time that I had to stress to get shit done in the middle of my job-day I'd be job hunting.

Good luck job hunting for a job like that in the US. Here standard vacation is 1-2 weeks per year and getting your 8 hours in between 8am and 5pm is also the norm.

Sadly we don't have the luxury of having such flexible hours and large vacation packages as is standard in foreign countries.

I am a kind of an adult who doesn't have stuff to do on lunch. Not only am I eating lunch, but I plan activities like what you mention to times outside of work. At most I'll add in a visit to the post office. If I have to cash a cheque, that's a Saturday morning.

Wow, that's weird. I need the one hour break from my colleagues as with how our office is laid out it can get pretty busy and noisy and I can't listen to music all day.

Luckily where I work there's a small boating lake that I can walk around just across the road which is incredibly nice to walk around for half an hour every lunch time. It's also lucky that my colleagues all like to go alone for lunch too :D

Is it uncommon in your country to have kitchen areas where you can prepare/heat food and eat it? At work maybe half of the office bring or buy food and eat together. Some make a quick salad. Others eat together at a restaurant or alone.

Here's a quote from a "day in the life" sheet I was sent after a phone interview with Susquehanna. I didn't continue with the job interview for this very reason:

"SIG partners with external caterers to provide a buffet lunch of main courses, salads, soup, and dessert, and it changes on daily basis. So you grab a plate and head back to your desk to eat; it will give you some time to catch up on the latest tech and market news on the net as you eat."

"catch up on the latest tech and market news on the net as you eat"

That probably does describe a lot of my lunches. However, that is my choice. If an employer explicitly expected me to spend my lunches doing that I'd soon be an ex-employee.

I work at Susquehanna and I believe you may have incorrectly understood this to imply there is a pressure to stay at one's desk over lunch. In my experience, this is not at all the case and I head out over lunch fairly frequently.

Holy crap. And they can actually recruit?

Yeah, "lunch time, finally can get on and catch up with hackernews!"

Hey, I actually do that while eating my lunch. usually with reddit or HN on my phone.

Nerds don't need social interaction during lunch time right?

They probably forgot "So you grab a plate and head back to the basement to eat at your desk."

But is this time paid? Because I can see the downside to this, but I'm also thinking, well, at least I can go home an hour earlier.

Either that or eating there is just optional? It doesn't seem to explicitly say you have to eat their food and stay at work. Plus a lot of people do strange diets now days or have all sorts of allergies. It sounds to me from the last sentence is "we provide food, so if you want to stay here and eat at your desk you can."

software improvement group?

Software Improvement Group (SIG) = https://www.sig.eu

yes. that is why I asked. I had good experience with the Software Improvement Group and can't recall such tyranny.

Susquehanna International Group.


I remember I went for a job interview at a law firm, and one of the more junior people interviewing me brought me out to lunch. It was freezing outside, but he left his jacket in his office. I asked him why he left it there, and he said it was so others would think he was in the office. I'm pretty sure I didn't get that job, but I'm glad for it.

I thought the same thing, along with the afternoon walk. I've always gone out for walks since my first job in the city where there's actually somewhere to walk. Nobody's ever said anything or complained about it.

A job is not slavery, don't treat it like it is. Assume you're free to do as you like (while getting your work done) unless indicated otherwise.

My question as well. Is this really a thing in the US?

Yes pretty much. In NYC especially everyone goes out, grabs lunch and brings it back to eat at their desks.

Yes, a coworker was recently fired and the final straw was sleeping at his desk. He had a long list of other problems though and I'm sure if sleeping was the only one, he'd still be here.

Right? The smell alone isn't fair to other coworkers.

Trading desks at financial services firms.

The same kind of company where they still "write memos."

Lunchtime naps are common in Taiwan. Someone will turn off the light in the office at the start of the lunch break, and turn it back on at the end.

That change of lighting encourages everyone to take a rest or leave, because staying will disturb the people who want to rest. It also saves a little electricity, I suppose.

I've only experienced this in a university, not in an office, but it was really easy to fall asleep when everyone around you does the same (even easier than alone, IMHO).

I'm really envious of people who are actually able to take naps because it just doesn't work for me. By the time I actually "phase out", for which I need at least like 20-30 minutes, most of my lunch break would already be over, resulting in me waking up all groggy and irritated.

Try to practice mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness in Plain English [1] is a good resource. For starters it is relaxing in itself, and will teach you to relax faster, but if you practice with eyes clothes in a chair or on a couch instead of sitting in a traditional pose, and you're actually in need of sleep, it's easy to drift off unless you actively try not to.

The book has a number of pieces of advice to avoid sleeping - if your aim is to nap rather than meditate, just do the opposite. E.g. part of the point of a traditional meditation pose is to create alertness (sit up straight, lift your head etc.) in part to avoid falling asleep.

Sometimes I want to stay awake and pay attention to pose etc. Sometimes I like to use the breathing etc. to have a quick nap, and instead will sit in a relaxed position, rest my head. I find it's made a big difference in how quickly I fall asleep - I now associate certain positions with "fall asleep ASAP" and certain positions with "clear your mind and stay focused", and automatically fall into certain patterns when I prepare accordingly.

[1] http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe.html

How much have you tried it? My impression is grogginess doesn't really set in until after being asleep for >40min.

Sometimes when I try to nap I never go fully under, but the relaxation and slipping away is still refreshing.

Being able to sleep anytime, anywhere is basically something you can train to. When you do, it's extremely powerful to stay alert.

As a starter you don't have to make actual naps, just close your eyes and rest for a few minutes.

Everytime I try that it leads to the same outcome: By the time I relax I feel so good about that state that I'm just pissed off when I'm forced out of it, so I don't even want to get there in the first place.

You maybe know about any good online resources for nap training?

No resources needed, you just have to keep at it:

  * lay down
  * set a 20 minutes timer
  * close your eyes and try to relax, don't open them until the timer rings, even if you are not sleeping
  * repeat daily, ideally around the same time every day
Took me a week but now I sleep almost instantly

If you have troubles getting up afterwards, try a powernap: drinking one cup of coffee right before napping. The caffeine will kick in at about the same time your nap ends.

I feel the exact same way about napping. Instead, I find that leaving my desk and going for short walks throughout the day is more effective, for me.

A yoga nidra (check youtube) or body scan meditation can really recharge me without becoming unconscious. They are also more effective for me, I think because they lack the randomness of "will I be able to fall asleep quickly enough to take advantage of this short window".

Better: eat less lunch. Ever since I've started having no more than a moderate bowl of low-cal (not "diet", just not "vitamix'd pizza") soup, the second half of the day is just as productive as the first. If I eat enough for a food coma, I go home; I'd provide no useful anything for the rest of the day, nap or no, so no sense hiding it by merely being around.

This isn't meant as an Ad hominem, but do your team members ever show any disdain towards having to tolerate working with a person who leaves work early because they ate too much? Are you the boss? Genuine curiosity here.

No, not really. People leave work early for all kinds of reasons, people work late / from home for all kinds of reasons. Everyone is expected to carry their own load. I'm at Microsoft now, but this was the case at my previous two companies too. Granted, nobody ever says "I ate too much and am useless now so deal with it", more "I have something to take care of this afternoon". (Which is often the case anyway if you have kids / house.) So long as you eventually put in the lost hours and hit the deadlines, that's all anyone cares about.

Though still, don't do this often.... That's kind of the whole point, right?

Same. On the rare occasion I get more than about 500 calories at lunch, and i have to be very careful about what I eat or I'm dozy half the afternoon. A salad is fine, or a bowl of ramen or similar if folks happen to be going out somewhere that serves it, but anything heavier than that and I'm going to have a bad time. A nice side effect is that a normal-sized supper generally does make me sleepy, which helps with getting to bed at a reasonable hour.

I can recommend the practice, especially to skinnier folk who would like to stay that way - too late for me, I'm afraid, despite three miles' worth of foot commute daily, but it does wonders for my afternoon productivity nonetheless, and if it doesn't actually help lose weight then it does at least help keep it stable.

Isn't more about the type of food you eat instead of just calories? I tried to eat less but then I end it up having to eat again in the middle of the day.

I don't know. I've been limiting myself to ~400 kcal. About half of the time this is chicken, veg, and whole-wheat noodle soup. That's still a reasonable size portion, and I guess has some vitamins but I'm not a vitamin counter by any means. I do whatever makes me feel good, and this does the trick for me. I used to go to restaurants a lot more, but now hardly ever. And I really do stick to the "if I'm not going to be useful I go home" thing, and fortunately I'm in a group that's fine with it so long is it doesn't affect deadlines. Maybe once a month I'll cave to the urge to eat a big whatever and immediately regret it.

To a point, yes - but to a point, no. Candy doesn't fill me up like veggies, for example - yet I'm not packing in protein to try to keep me full either.

For me, part of the equation was finding out when I'm most hungry naturally. Eating a proper breakfast makes me more hungry later in the day. The same goes for eating a large lunch. So I tend to skip breakfast, have a small lunch - usually just a cheese sandwich, some fruit, or a piece of bread. Possibly have a small snack (fruit, nuts, chips), and then a large dinner. This also follows my own natural energy level - I'm a night owl. My mother is the opposite.

Anecdata: for me it's not calories, it's carbs. I used to get so insanely tired in the afternoons that I would take a nap in my car even in the ~100 degree Texas heat. After switching to a low-carb paleo diet, I entirely stopped getting sleepy in the afternoons. YMMV.

I'm glad that you've found something which worked for you, and perhaps it will work for others as well. But it doesn't seem to me like "eat less lunch" is a direct alternative to napping, generalizable to the whole population as "better".

For me, almost entirely, yes, it's a direct alternative. If I eat a big lunch, then I need a nap, and if I eat a small lunch I don't. Maybe that's just me. As far as whether it's better or not, if anyone can produce a study where eating more than you need is healthier than eating just as much as you need, nap or not... I think most research shows that eating less is a big deal.

Funny thing is, until you challenged it, I'd never really rationalized it all. But now I'm seeing something bigger than "this makes me more productive".

EDIT: I'm super curious why this would have been downvoted. Not offended at all, the opposite really, just curious what anyone found offensive here.

For me it was enough to stop with carbs, no more afternoon naps needed. And no need to starve yourself :)

What's your typical lunch look like, out of curiosity?

It could be a fried slice of cauliflower with bacon and a fried egg on top. Or gratin on any mix of broccoli, zucchini, meat, cheese, cream, mayonnaise, other low-carb vegetables and herbs. There are also some kelpnoodles? that we eat with a sauce from crème fraiche, tuna and lemonjuice. Or just a big green sallad with some meat.

I do both nowadays but completely agree. I started drinking Huel for breakfast and lunch around 8 months ago and the difference in energy levels when I only have 500 calories (exactly weighed out) is huge. Every month or so I go out for lunch then proceed to regret it for the rest of the day.

I'm generally a lot more productive when I'm hungry. Eating, for me, leads to lethargy.

I once read something about Julius Caesar being trained never to eat until satiated. Can't find it now. Granted maybe that's why he's now named after a salad.

My Austrian grandfather had the same habit, and while I never inquired, I suspect it had a similar sort of origin - of his brothers, all those I had the chance to know shared it.

Whether this had any effect on their all having been successful small business owners, one of whom manufactured parts used in every Space Shuttle orbiter, I can't really speculate - that's just one of the many conversations I'll never quite be done regretting the preclusion of opportunity to have with these very worthy and remarkable men, none of whom survived into this millennium. But it wouldn't surprise me all that much.

I think there's a Japanese saying about stopping you're 4/5ths full, and there are other sayings like "tie off the sack before it's full," etc. I have been trying it recently and I definitely feel less lethargic in general, especially after lunch, but after dinner too.

Mice do better on intelligence tests when they're hungry.


That's because digesting food also takes some effort for your body. If you eat a big lunch/food that's hard to digest, you will make that infamous noon sleepiness just that much worse as your body will have to spend energy dealing with all the food in your belly in addition to keeping you awake.

I'm not sure that is better. Human circadian rhythms are naturally biphasic. Even if you went on a complete water fast, it's doubtful you'd completely eliminate the secondary one.

For me lunch is the only warm meal I eat during weekdays so it is usually quite large. I don't really feel tired or anything after it though.

> Naps at work can make you more productive. Maybe don’t be this obvious about it, though.

That image caption sums up the prevailing attitude for me, really: don't be obvious that you're being more productive, especially if it goes against the grain. Better to toe the line and be less productive. There are many examples of the same phenomenon, beyond just napping.

In India, this seems to be common in households. You would find family members taking an hour or so nap after lunch. Even during festivals or occasions, host arranges nap session for guests. Though it is seen as unprofessional in offices. Until few years ago I used to think those people as lazy and unproductive but now perspective seems to be changing.

I like meditation better. I want a meditation room at work, complete isolation, with options for sitting and lying down. Deep meditation has become useful for me to relax and recharge. Also, when you get good at it, it helps you solve things faster when you get stuck on a problem.

Tell us more. How do you (deep) meditate?

I do meditation here and there and mostly follow this: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4928060

The difficult part for me is avoiding napping during 50% of my conference calls.

I did at one point consider trying to hook into my web cam so I could feed prerecorded footage of me being awake allowing me to nap without anyone noticing. This was at a point where meetings were compulsory, excessive and completely pointless.

genius idea

I work about 5 minutes from my house. I get to go home, in silence, grab some food, and nap in my own bed. It makes ALL the difference in the world.

At my job, I always feel like it's frowned upon to take a nap. In most cases we're a "as long as you get your work done, we can be flexible with hours" kind of shop. But the moment I close my eyes even for just a few short moments, someone either taps me or later mentions "man, you look exhausted, are you okay?"

Power naps make me feel more refreshed, which I'd assume people would want out of their coworker/employee late in the work day, but maybe I'm wrong.

I don't think I could physically fall asleep at work. Are people really this tired while they're at their offices?

It seems like if you're so tired while you're at work that you actually want to take a nap, then maybe there is another underlying problem.

Thats natural human behavior.

The biology term is 'arousal' and there are peaks in the morning and late afternoon, but around 1pm-ish your body naturally slows down and wants sleep. The effect is much stronger in children, but it's there with adults.

You don't feel like you could fall asleep because you've trained yourself not to, and you're most likely taking wakefulness promoting drugs all day.

> It seems like if you're so tired while you're at work that you actually want to take a nap, then maybe there is another underlying problem.

There is: tiredness. Often, but not always, due to lack of sleep. A nap is the solution.

If you need 8 glasses of water a day to be at peak-performance but for whatever reason only manage to drink 7 in the morning, why not have that final glass sometime during the day? Same with sleep.

In fact it's absurd to think everybody can store energy upfront and power through 9 hours of activity without falling off towards the end.

Naps are natural.

But it's not normal for adults to sleep so badly that you need naps during the day, apart from having very young kids. So other than that I'd say there may well be an underlying problem.

If you could help me and 25% of everyone [1] figure out that underlying problem, we would be super grateful!

[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sleep/articles/sleepd...

I was going to argue that that article itself lists a number of underlying problems and what can be done about them, but that number is much higher than I expected and clearly there are many people who just don't sleep well during the night.

Consider my opinion changed.

Or perhaps not, considering there are cultures where a noon or early-afternoon nap is not particularly out of the ordinary. No one's really talking here, in any case, of needing a daytime nap, but rather of finding one beneficial to productivity.

Wow, really? Not only does daytime napping improve health even if you are already healthy adult who gets adequate sleep, there's ample evidence our (pre-working in an office for 10 hours straight) ancestors did so regularly, which persists in many cultures to this day.

I suggest you recalibrate your definition of "normal".

Offices are much less natural than afternoon naps.

Yes, work is not "natural", but we have to sit and do it every day because that's the way it is. So the problem here is to find tricks to keep being productive all day long, and naps are one of them.

I work from home-office and try to lie down for 10 minutes in the afternoon.

I don't really fall asleep, but I found that just closing my eyes for this short amount of time gives me a tremendous boost of relaxation, especially when my mind gets into a dreamy state for a minute or so.

It's funny, but I find a bit of the opposite. If I get up from my desk and pace the hallways for 10 minutes, that'll give me far more energy than a nap... not sure what's more socially acceptable though: sleeping on the job or pacing like a madman.

I can easily if I had a quiet place. Also if I don’t sleep enough (e.g. kids awake at night + long day) I just start dreaming with eyes open.

The amount of sleep a person needs and how long you can go without involuntarily fallin asleep seems to vary wildly though; a friend who I have reason to believe talks about working continiously for 3 days to catch a deadline. (The explanation was along the lines of: it hurts but what to do?) An ex colleague was also known to work through the night between working days.

A lot of people have a low after lunch. When I work from home I often nap for 20 minutes around 2pm and I think this makes rest of the day much better.

Another take: if you're so wound up while you're at work that you can't take a nap, maybe there is another underlying problem!

Creative problem solving mindset needs room for thoughts to wander, and is incompatible with hurry.

The human body has both physical and mental limits at which point rest is the preferred course of action. So if you're not getting tired from your work, it sounds like you're not working hard enough.

This is not about being "tired". It's about resetting your nervous system which for different people works differently. I often think about it as about a distinction between sprinters vs. marathon runners. Some people have biological predispositions to perform better in one of those.

I don't think that making any type of generalisations (eg. "people shouldn't be that tired") makes much sense.

> maybe there is another underlying problem.

The problem is that sometimes I am in the zone from like 10pm - 1am.

So naturally I am tired during the day. A few minutes to nap for 3 hours of "in the zone" ain't a bad trade off for a company in my opinion.

But then why not just go home three hours early, when you work that time later in the day? A short bike ride or walk in the forest could do more for you than napping and then making more hours at work.

Why is this a problem? You may not work in the same environment as other people. That doesn't make them necessarily have some "underlying problem."

I've regularly taken naps at lunch too and found they make a big difference to afternoon productivity. I've found walking also has a similar effects, especially on grass. I normally do one or the other depending on how well I slept the night before.

How long do people find most effective? I've found either 12 min or 30 min to be best for me. 30 min if I'm particularly tired, 12 min if not. If I go longer than 12 I get foggy for around 30 min after.

Here in Japan it's very common to take naps during the day. Personally I don't take naps but I try to take enough rest during the night. Taking naps during the day might actually hurt your ability to sleep in the evening. https://www.verywell.com/30-days-to-better-sleep-go-to-bed-o...

What if your boss is about to catch you napping under your desk and you have to call a friend and convince him to call in a bomb threat so you can escape?

A bomb? George's desk is built like a bunker! I'll hide under it until they sound the all clear!

"Who is this?"


I nap for 20 minutes every day at work (at my previous company, for 4 years or so and now since I'm working remotely). Here are my steps for taking a nap:

1. Find a good place to nap. Use the same place every day. I used to nap under my desk on a lazy bag at my last job.

2. Quickly find a comfortable position. Quickly fix everything that bothers you (like watch on your wrist or anything else that's making you uncomfortable).

3. Start breathing from your stomach - not your upper torso. Your stomach should raise up and down, not your upper torso.

4. Relax your whole body. In the beginning, start by relaxing one by one region. First your toes. Then your lower leg, then your upper leg. Then the other leg... Until you relax your whole body. It should feel as your mind is separate from your body. Like it could go out of it. Your body should be completely numb. Later, as you progress, you will be able to relax your whole body with a few breaths. As if some force flows from your stomach and removes spasm from your body as you breath out.

5. Start removing thoughts from your brain. As you start thinking about something, just stop. Another thought comes in. Kill it. Just kill thoughts. You can think only about your breathing. Nothing else.

That's it. With these steps, I'm able to feel a sleep in just a few moments. I use that all the time.

Bonus: I have a special position that I "developed" that mitigates office sounds. I nap on my back, slightly turned on left side. I put my left ear on the pillow or a lazy bag. I put my right hand over my right ear and over my head. That way, a pillow isolates my left ear, while my right biceps isolates my right ear from sounds. I found this to be very effective.

Good luck napping.

I'll make sure that article is visible in my browser while I'm taking that nap.

In Japan this is called inemuri. However there is etiquette associated to sleeping on the job.

I've heard in some cases there are secret nap meetings where all the attendees agree to take a nap.

That's brilliant. But how do you safeguard against a defector reporting against the rest of the group?

Taking naps is seen as a good thing, it means you are tired from too much working. In fact, some people fake it.

My feeling is that apart from really essential meetings (and those are very few) your schedule should be pretty open and sleep/break/nap when you want (ideally at home).

Then use metrics other than bums on seats to measure performance.

My office had two small nap rooms in the break room. A small bench-like bed, a blanket, and a sliding door that makes a dark room. It's bed really to take a 20 minute break to refresh and refocus.

I wonder how long it takes things like work productivity tips on HN to filter out to the real world?

Probably never. Naps are nothing new and companies who believe in them already have nap rooms or similar. Same for open office layouts. It's pretty well established that a lot of people hate them and find they hurt productivity but companies still use them.

Maybe. What I was trying to say is that you generally see pretty forward-thinking stuff on here, or in the SF computer industry in general, but it often doesn't (yet) apply to the average worker

Before I started drinking coffee, I had a solid nap flow going. Now that coffee is in the picture, I'd probably just lay there for 20 minutes twitching :/.

Don't worry: your tolerance will eventually reach a level such that you would have to consume physically impossible amounts of coffee for it to have any effect.

"Congratulations you have reached complete habituation + crippling dependence!"

Personally I find that there's a dynamic balance that forms. Any less caffeine and I'm a zombie, any more and it just feels physically repulsive. You make a cup take a sip and your mind is like Just No.

For me that balance is at about 400 to 500 mg of caffeine per day. Stays stable for months and months, then I tend to reset a bit during a vacation of or 3-day weekend of some sort.

Don't need caffeine at all if I'm not mentally working. Barrly crosses my mind.

Now we move on to performance enhancing supplements. All natural, of course. /s

might be worth giving the "caffeine nap" a try: https://vanwinkles.com/should-you-sip-an-espresso-before-you...

Don't unless you're sure people won't talk behind your back and management won't get the wrong impression. "Look at so and so snoring while we are working hard getting stuff out of the door".

Rationally you'll explain and show the article from NYT, and they'll agree. But irrationally they'll still form an opinion and stick to it.

Another reason to prefer working remote, at least part of the time!

I don't understand napping, never have. Are you really that tired that you must sleep in the middle of the day? Maybe you just need better rest at night, or maybe you need to exercise more or eat better food? Unless you're a toddler then napping feels like compensating for something else.

To each their own, if it works for you that's great.

> I don't understand napping, never have. Are you really that tired that you must sleep in the middle of the day?

I exercise 5 times a day, and I eat a very clean diet. Not keto or paleo, but definitely low in carbs, high in fat and vegetables etc. I still sleep for 20 minutes at lunch. Human adults are tuned to feel sleepy after being up for 8 hours or so.

Did you read the article?

> In a study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers tested subjects on their perceptual performance four times throughout the day. Performance deteriorated with each test, but subjects who took a 30-minute nap between tests stopped the deterioration in performance, and those who took a 60-minute nap even reversed it.

I do wonder the same thing. While I do need points in the day to just stop working and relax my brain, even daydream, I never feel the need for an actual nap. I have to wonder if diet and fitness have anything to do with it.

In my opinion, napping becomes more essential with hard training. Even with sleeping well every night, I still find myself napping almost daily.

Your first paragraph stands in contrast with the last. For some people napping optimizes their energy through the day.

I'm pretty sure that it wouldn't be allowed where I work. Even though it's an US company, it's being led by Germans and in some offices they will already complain if you eat too long. "Take Naps at Work. Apologize to No One." would be a pretty dangerous statement there.

> Even though it's an US company

It always amazes me when someone just assumes that US companies are somehow superior to the rest of the world. I've worked for a couple of US based companies and the experience was shit compared to other non-US companies I worked for.

I wouldn't say "superior". I don't know anybody who'd have assumed that at all. You must have gotten that wrong somehow. Especially in my business, people assume German companies to be far more superior (which is also not really true based on my experience).

However, you do expect some kind of "business culture" especially because the company usually forces the advertisement for it onto you whether you want or not. Our floor are plastered with Fremdscham posters and phrases in english. Often you also hear a manager in a meeting praising some new trope from the East Coast regarding office layout or similar.

What really sticks with is the informal "you" though. It's really helpful most of the time.

I worked at a place like that, and took secret 10m naps in a storeroom. The storeroom was accessed via a bathroom I could lock.

Noone ever asked, 'hey, what have you been doing in the bathroom for the last 10 minutes??'

Yeah we had one in the old building too. Now we can be happy that we have offices. They have windows towards the floor too so...I tend to take the car and sleep in the nearby forest during break. But only if I'm already pretty down.

That's quite odd. All the Germans I know are fastidious about getting proper breaks/time off/holidays/etc.

Yes this is true. However, a break is not sleeping. This is Germany here. Your break starts at 12:00! You have time to eat in that time. Maybe dump a part of it afterwards and then go back to your desk by 12:30. Misusage of your desk as bed will not be tolerated! Hier herrscht Recht und Ordnung!!!11elf

Seriously, since I wrote this, I really thought about what may happen if I try. I thought maybe some people would be too polite to wake me up. Others may try to call me but I know at least one that would kick my door in just to see my shocked face. It would cause some talk for sure. I see things going this way: "Aluhut is not getting enough sleep at home...maybe he has some trouble with his girl" or "...he's partying through the whole night! I'm sure about that!". Whatever it might be in the end, I'm pretty sure it would all focus on the fact that I've done something wrong causing me not to be fit for work.

NYTimes HQ has 3 nap rooms on different floors. Not sure how many people knew about it.

I've been doing naps at work for the last year, since I started to try polyphasic sleep. Naps play an essential role in my polyphasic strategy. Those 30 minutes I spend sleeping after lunch save me some sleep hours during night. You can get some data points about naps and its importance in this book (which I recommend): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sleep-Myth-Hours-Power-Recharge/dp/...

I think age plays a role too- a few years ago I would have laughed at the idea of someone having to take a break and rest in the middle of an 8 hour period to regain energy. But I can now clearly see how that matters.

Do the companies who allow naps see it as a perk or a necessity? IOW, if you see naps as beneficial would you be OK with people taking them during a product release, or a service interruption?

A nap being a "necessity" doesn't necessarily mean that taking it at whatever time you want is a necessity. Take the nap before or after the release; or after service is restored. It's not that complicated.

FWIW, I don't see why it would have to be either a perk or a necessity, rather than a potential productivity booster that shouldn't be mandatory but can be beneficial to both the employee and the company. I would put things like allowing employees to listen to music on headphones while at work into the same bucket.

>Take the nap before or after the release; or after service is restored. It's not that complicated.

But if it is indeed a potential productivity booster, why would you skip the nap during service interruptions or product releases?

Because most people can still be productive without a nap, just marginally less productive. And in many cases time is money.

Unless your service interruption is lasting all day (in which case you have bigger problems), it's much better for the company to get the site back up in 10 minutes than to wait 30 minutes for you to finish your nap and then get it back up in 8 minutes. Especially if you're losing $10K in revenue (or more) for every minute of downtime.

Whereas the work you'll be doing once the service is back up can be done more efficiently or creatively or thoughtfully after a nap, but won't suffer from being pushed back half an hour.

Releases, well, that depends on your release process.

I wasn't arguing one way or the other. I wanted to see if people thought it was a massive boost or just a marginal one. Seems like you think its marginal.

I'd suspect it differs from person to person. I guess I answered as I did because the way the question was phrased set up what seems to me to be a false dichotomy.

When you say "perk", I think of something that's offered to attract employees because it goes beyond what's typically expected from a baseline office (be it free soda, gym memberships, or $3000 chairs).

When you say "necessity," I think of something the employee can't be reasonably productive or present without (a desk, an internet connection, a keyboard, a restroom).

There's a lot of stuff that fits in between or outside those two categories. There are things that are above the absolute necessity baseline but too much within the level of expectation to be considered a perk. Free coffee comes to mind. So does a microwave in the break room/kitchen. Or (on the west coast) a casual dress code.

Others aren't there specifically to make the job more attractive to employees - but may have that effect on some (an open floor plan; a well defined professional development ladder). You'll notice that some of these are neutral or a turn-off to other employees. They also tend to be things that the company leadership will help make the company more effective.

So I don't see something like allowing headphones while working as either. It's too mundane and expected to be a perk; and as an employee I may consider it a necessity, but I'm pretty sure my employer just sees it as part of a relaxed culture and a way to mitigate the distractions of the open floor plan.

Naps are certainly not a necessity from almost any employer's POV. An employee is generally expected to be able to be productive without one; and they're far from an expectation in any job in the US. They're certainly not necessities. For some employees they'd be seen as a perk, while (as this HN discussion seems to demonstrate) others would disdain a culture that accepted naps. But I suspect that companies that allow them consider them to be a part of the culture rather than a perk - something that's less about making the job seem attractive and more about creating a more pleasant and effective work environment.

Does that make any sense?

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