Coffee is Cool, but Napping is Slacking. Right?

Coffee is Cool but Napping is Slacking? 

Media Release.  August 14, 2012.

There is no clinical evidence that supports caffeine to reduce fatigue or enhance performance.

A study published in Elsevier as early as 1997 concluded that “one of the significant factors motivating caffeine consumption appears to be ‘withdrawal relief’.  Caffeine is addictive and people feel better afterwards because their addiction has been fed.

But it is widely accepted and intrinsic to our culture, even status.

“I’m surprised at how many organizations make little or no effort to combat the inefficiencies, errors, accidents, bad moods and general waste of time that is caused by fatigue in the workplace”, Elizabeth Shannon from Sleepless No More comments.

“Ironically it’s often the high achieving and highly competitive companies that are the worst – they’d rather see their staff consuming coffee and rubbish food than take a nap at lunch time”.

Negative Coping Strategies for Fatigue at Work

Most of the coping strategies used by overtired and exhausted workers add to the problem not solve it.

58 per cent of people consume caffeinated beverages including energy drinks (the large majority didn’t conform to the NSW Food Authority’s standards when tested – some are being de-registered).

38 per cent are eating sugary foods and carbohydrates and 5 per cent are taking alerting medication such as the attached No-Doz tablet containing caffeine.  Other stimulants include taurine, guarana and nicotine/cigarettes.


After the “hit” what still remains is the fatigue, the depleted executive function, the impaired motor skills, the propensity for errors and accidents, the lack of concentration, the inability to discern important information from the unimportant, the bad decision making, the irritable and grumpy moods, the increased risk taking behavior, the drowsy and dangerous driving, the stress and anxiety – all typical of sleep deprived people.

Fatigue and Addictions

There’s a chance that they’re not just addicted to caffeine but sleeping pills and other medications as well.  Sleeping pills (6 to 10 per cent) and anxiety medications (3 per cent) are addictive and have adverse side effects including the hangover effect, groggy feelings, lethargy, memory loss, to name a few.

One anti-anxiety medication was recently described in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend Magazine as “more addictive and harder to kick than heroin”.

So they are addicted to caffeine, stimulants and medications.  And that’s fine?

But no, don’t let them have a 20 minute nap at work: that would be really slack.  Are we insane?

Sleep and Napping The Only Way to Reduce Sleep Debt

“The only proven strategy to reduce fatigue and sleep debt is sleep, period,” Shannon emphasizes.  Dr John Caldwell, principal research psychologist for the Warfighter Fatigue Countermeasures Program agrees “no drug has yet been invented that is a substitute for sleep”.

“If companies gave napping permission it would significantly improve the health and wellbeing of participants and improve the bottom line” she continued, ”it’s doable in a normal lunch hour, and is a very economical cultural change”.  “In fact, 20 minutes or less is the limit to avoid sleep inertia.”

Napping – the Positive Cultural Change at Work

A number of studies show that about 37 to 40 per cent of people are doing it anyway.  Why not make it a post-GFC benefit, as a creative response to pressure on financial and equity based remuneration packages?   “It doesn’t require any expensive apparatus or special rooms”, Shannon explained, “it could be as easy as giving permission to put your head on your desk for 20 minutes at lunch time for significant productivity and safety benefits; similar to what many of us did as infants at school”.  “We grew up and lost that time out, it’s a great pity”, she added.

Companies that Nap

While napping is supported by leading companies such as NASA, Google, Nike and British Airways, most Australian companies don’t even have a sleep policy for international travelers, high dollar value transactions, shift workers, heavy and dangerous machinery operators, or drivers.

The Cost of Lost Productivity

With over $ 3.1 billion lost productivity in Australia each year, it’s time companies woke up.

Fatigue:  Bedroom to Boardroom

For further information or to receive the report Fatigue:  Bedroom to Boardroom phone Elizabeth Shannon on (02) 9977 1403, 0458 41 4441 or email or visit


Regular Caffeine Consumption:  A Balance of Adverse and Beneficial Effects for Mood and Psychomotor Performance.  Rogersa, Dernoncourta.  Elsevier.  1997

Anxiety Nation, SMH Good Weekend Magazine, Julie-Anne Davies.  July 14, 2012.

Sleep In America.  National Sleep Foundation USA Survey 2008

Take a Nap, Change Your Life. Dr Sarah Mednick

Napping has been shown to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, increase employee retention, help recover from a bad night’s sleep, improve accuracy and alertness, speed up motor performance, improve accuracy, improve memory, improve decision making ability, elevate mood, reduce stress and anxiety, reduce dependence on drugs and alcohol, improve the ease and quality of nocturnal sleep and fatten your bottom line.

Power Sleep.  Dr James Maas.

NSW Food Authority Survey – Caffeine and Caffeine Drinks, and Fact Sheet.

Re-Awakening Australia report, commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation conducted by Deloitte Access Economics.

Selling Sickness.  Ray Moynihan & Alan Cassels.

Galaxy Survey, 2010.