It's becoming increasingly common for people, especially adults, to not sleep through the night—which can have negative consequences for attention and memory. (Credit: iStockphoto)

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Why a catnap at work is a nifty idea

Researchers have two words for companies that want to boost employee productivity and safety: nap pods.

Taking a short snooze is an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, a new study finds. Napping also is a cheap and easy way to increase workplace safety.

In other words, employers may find their employees are more productive and less irritated when nap pods or extended break times are available at work.

Sleep deprived

It’s becoming increasingly common for people, especially adults, to not sleep through the night—which can have negative consequences for attention and memory.

For the study, published online in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, researchers examined how a brief nap affected emotional control. The study’s 40 participants, ages 18 to 50, maintained a consistent sleep schedule for three nights prior to the test.

In a laboratory, participants completed tasks on computers and answered questions about sleepiness, mood, and impulsivity. They were randomly assigned to a 60-minute nap opportunity or no-nap period that involved watching a nature video. The participants were monitored and later completed the same questionnaires and tasks again.

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People who napped spent more time trying to solve a task than the non-nappers, who were less willing to endure frustration in order to complete it. The nappers also reported feeling less impulsive.

Combined with previous research demonstrating the negative effects of sleep deprivation, the latest results indicate that staying awake for an extended period of time keeps people from controlling negative emotional responses, says Jennifer Goldschmied, a doctoral student in the psychology department at the University of Michigan and the study’s lead author.

“Our results suggest that napping may be a beneficial intervention for individuals who may be required to remain awake for long periods of time by enhancing the ability to persevere through difficult or frustrating tasks.”

Source: University of Michigan

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