Research Shows Napping Makes Workers More Productive
For years, researchers have theorized and proven that naps improve workers’ productivity and performance in the workplace. In addition to being well-rested, workers also showed better cognition, decision-making, and overall well-being. However, in a recent study, economists from MIT, Harvard, and the University of Pennsylvania discovered some surprising correlations to personal financial habits. In their paper, “The Economic Consequences of Increasing Sleep Among the Urban Poor,” the team not only looked at how sleep affects workers’ productivity, but also explored the link between naps and savings habits. More specifically, it suggested that napping can save you money.
The Case Study
In this case study, the research team conducted field research among the urban poor in Chennai, India. They selected participants from a pool of volunteers, employing them for the temporary data-entry positions. During the study, they utilized state-of-the-art technology to measure the sleep patterns of 452 adults over the course of 28 days.
Participants wore an actigraph, a device that looks very similar to a wristwatch, throughout the study. It measured each person’s body movements and inferred whether they were awake or asleep. Not only are the actigraphs practical and portable, but they have been consistently accurate in tracking people’s sleep patterns. And, they can detect disruptions and brief awakenings throughout the night. Furthermore, they can calculate sleep efficiency based on the time the person spent asleep versus time in bed. All of these factors impact people’s productivity and cognition during the workday.
While establishing their baseline, the devices revealed the average adult only slept 5.5 hours a night. However, this is well below the expert recommendation of 7 to 9 hours a night. To test their theory that more sleep would improve productivity, health, and savings habits, the experiment established three groups. One group received night-sleep treatment devices like masks and earplugs, tips to improve sleep, verbal encouragement, and financial incentives to get more sleep each night. Another group received time to take a 30-minute nap each afternoon. The third one served as the control group.
The team monitored the actigraphs daily, measuring sleep duration, time in bed, and any detectable interruptions. They also tracked the daily work output for each person to provide a quantitative way to measure workers’ productivity. Additionally, they also asked the participants to take surveys and perform experimental tasks during the study.
At the same time, they also observed the workers’ savings behaviors. At the end of the day, each person could choose how much money to withdraw and how much to save each shift.
Most experts predicted that the workers who slept longer each night would show better health, productivity, and savings habits. And, they were correct…to an extent. The group that received the night-sleep treatments gained an average of 27 minutes more sleep each night. However, this was largely due to spending more time in bed, not improved sleep efficiency. Surprisingly, the workers who took naps during the workday actually had better sleep efficiency. While they only gained an additional 14 minutes of sleep each day, they had better quality sleep and fewer disruptions.
Beyond a slight increase of 1.3% productivity over the control group, workers using night-sleep treatments reported minimal impacts. Furthermore, they lost work hours since they were spending more time in bed. And, they saw no significant impacts on workers’ cognition, physical, or psychological well-being.
On the other hand, naps had significant personal and economic benefits. First and foremost, workers who napped were 2.3% more productive than the control group. Moreover, they showed improved psychological well-being based on workers’ responses of great happiness and overall satisfaction. But, the most striking result is that this group also had a 14% jump in daily deposits and a 13% increase in net savings. This suggests that napping can save you money and help you make better financial decisions.
How Napping Can Save You Money
Naps Save Businesses Money
This case study focuses on the urban poor in Chennai, India. But, it has overarching implications for every worker and employer across the globe. Unfortunately, most adults do not get enough sleep each night. This leads to decreased performance, less attention to detail, and more accidents in the workplace. And if you are the employer, this is costing you money. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, insomnia and sleep deprivation cost businesses an average of $2,280 per employee per year. On a larger scale, sleep deprivation is credited for a 3% loss in GDP, equating to about $411 billion in economic activities annually.
As an employer, you can see how this would be problematic. Therefore, many companies have been experimenting with ways to combat this issue. Napping at work has gained a lot of traction. And, it is a growing trend among multinational corporations. Many Asian companies have already recognized the economic benefits of it. They encourage their employees to take naps during the day. In fact, it has already become part of the work culture in countries like Japan, Singapore, China, and Taiwan. More American companies such as Google, NASA, Facebook, and The Huffington Post are also following suit.
Napping Can Save You Money
Several studies have proven that power naps improve your productivity, job performance, and health. And, it has also been linked to a 4.5% improvement in employees’ earning potential. However, this is the first study that has linked naps to personal savings habits. That in itself is noteworthy. It makes sense that you would make smarter financial choices since you typically feel more alert and have better decision-making after a power nap. If you are more cognizant of your spending and savings habits, you are more likely to make good decisions when it comes to your finances. Now, researchers have tangible evidence. These results are further proof that napping saves you money by building better personal savings habits. So, if you are struggling to stick to a savings plan, perhaps getting more sleep could help you stay committed to your financial goals.