Forget about sanctioned workplace naps and go back to sleep
By Mark Rutledge
Saturday, August 17, 2019
On a busy afternoon at a former workplace, I was deep into job-related thought when the distinctive sound of a hammer drill began its rhythmic pounding against the building’s brick exterior.
I know that sound well because I own a hammer drill and have used it for creating holes in concrete.
“Why in the world would they start drilling holes into the building at this time of day?” I complained to the fellow newspaper professionals nearest my desk.
This was well after computers and the internet had transformed newsrooms from loud and lively, smoke-filled chambers to calm, clean-air spaces in which visiting librarians feel right at home.
With proper conditioning, constant noise can be tuned out. Silence breakers are harder to ignore.
Several minutes into the drilling, I questioned out loud the amount of time it should require to make a hole in the wall. That was when an editor kindly pointed out the culprit with the “power tool.”
The Black & Decker hammer drill slowly inching its way through brick and mortar with a dull bit was actually someone in features slumped over a desk and snoring.
From an initial draft of this column, my faithful editor reminded me that I told a shorter version of that same story here almost exactly two years ago. It must have something to do with the lazy, hazy dog days of August.
In the earlier column, I made a case for official workplace naps. I’ve changed my mind. Sneaking in a workday power nap is far more natural, restful and healthy.
The National Sleep Foundation identifies three types of napping. There is planned napping, emergency napping and habitual napping. As if those were not self-explanatory, the NSF website includes detailed descriptions.
That means that someone other than me actually gets paid to sit at a desk and describe the practice of napping. Awesome.
I will add a fourth type, “clandestine napping,” which can serve as a modifier to at least two of the NSF’s official three.
During the years when I had my own office at newspapers, I became talented at clandestine power-napping. At bureau offices, I would position my head on the back of my chair so that the casual observer from behind could assume I was studying the words on my computer screen. It helped that I never snored in those days.
My final newspaper office was not designed well for clandestine napping. That’s when I started with the parking lot power naps.
During summer, ice cubes could remain frozen indefinitely inside that office. I habitually napped (my favorite of the official napping types) in the seat of my sun-baked pickup truck. There is no better way to go from bone-chilled and weary to warm and rested in 15 minutes.
My office at the community college also is quite cold during summer. I keep a small pillow in my pickup and a straw hat to cover my face.
If the college were to officially sanction workplace naps and establish a dim room with cots and blankets and such, it would ruin everything. The facility almost certainly would not be kept at the proper 105-degree temperature.
And we’d have to leave our hammer drills at the door.
Contact Mark Rutledge at firstname.lastname@example.org or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.