Bosses should allow staff to take naps at work to boost productivity and creativity, a leading academic has suggested.
Vincent Walsh, professor of human brain research at University College London, also proposed they should be allowed to set their own work times, arriving whenever they want.
We have become obsessed with sleeping only during the night and fail to appreciate the benefits of an afternoon siesta, he told Cheltenham Science Festival.
‘It’s best to give your brain downtime. I have a nap every afternoon,’ he said.
‘It’s only since the industrial revolution we have been obsessed with squeezing all our sleep into the night rather than having one or two sleeps through the day.’
The professor said a nap of between 30 and 90 minutes in the afternoon could help companies improve productivity. ‘If we want people to be more creative we need people to be able to do less,’ he said.
‘Companies should allow naps in the afternoon. They should get rid of the habit of clocking in and clocking out.
‘Let people come in when they want. If they want to work through the night, let them.’
Research published today by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy reveals many employers are failing to encourage staff to take proper breaks. One in five work through their lunchbreak every day, the research suggests.
Of those who do manage to take a break, half ate at their desk. Only one in five go outside, according to the study of 2,000 people.
Professor Hugh Piggins, of Manchester University’s circadian neurobiology lab, also said sleeping was vital for memory and learning.
He said millions get too little sleep during the week and try to catch up at weekends.
Research suggests the problem – dubbed ‘social jetlag’ – could be responsible for increased rates of cancer, dementia and diabetes.