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Monday, July 9, 2018

Asleep at the Wheel

Have you ever fallen asleep on the job? My beloved wife Rhonda had a job many years ago that required her to do a “sleep over.” Sort of. As she describes it, “I was a behavioral assistant at a halfway house for teens. The job required me to spend the night, which meant I had to be somewhat awake.”

A number of jobs allow or require some type of sleep accommodation. For example, those staff involved in overnight care in a health care center or assisted living homes have job descriptions that clearly state that the staffer can sleep as long as the patients are resting. Consumer Reports staffers are paid to test mattresses to evaluate the finest bedding.

And one of my favorite stories in this regard is Mark Gorkin. This guy is known for seminars as The Stress Doc.  In the middle of his all day workshops, he frequently takes a short cat nap. States Gorkin, “I want them to see me ‘in action.’ I see myself as a role model, and invariably my napping stimulates discussion among participants.”

There are times when it’s best to stop working and take a sleep break. Drivers of trucks or paid delivery services that involve long distance travel are best served to pull over and rest a bit if they are falling asleep at the wheel. Medical people on long shifts during emergency times should definitely take rest or sleep breaks to be alert for surgery or important care. Let’s not forget pilots. Who wants a weary captain nodding off at the controls?

Many semis are now equipped with beds. So do some aircraft. Think of those 13 hour flights!

Studies have shown that lack of sleep impacts productivity. Harvard Medical School determined that one-third of American workers lacked sufficient sleep to function at peak levels. As a result, chronic exhaustion costs billions of dollars in lost productivity. A second study by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated around 40 million American workers lacked sufficient rest.

The Wall Street Journal reported a few years ago that managers at a growing number of companies have been “investing in programs from sleep-hygiene courses to melatonin-regulating lighting to help employees improve their slumber.”

And for about a decade, employers at Google have been providing napping spaces for employees. Sara Mednick, who wrote a book on the benefits of napping, was quoted as saying, “The idea of napping in front of people while they’re all working really hard—there’s not a lot of respect for that.” But times definitely are changing.

This past week, the Chicago Tribune highlighted a new approach: high tech sleep pods. The Europeans have a jump on this. Two manufacturers unveiled new nap pods last month at the NeoCon commercial interiors show in Chicago. The Trib highlighted Silence Business Solutions, which sells "The Dream Box”…a "recovery cocoon" with 12 light and sound atmospheres and a 15-minute program designed for power-napping. (see link below)

One thing you don’t want to do: catch up on sleep when the boss really needs you. Those familiar with the life of Jesus know that happened with His disciples. We find the story in Matthew 26:36-46. To summarize, on the night of His betrayal before His crucifixion, Jesus takes His disciples to Gethsemane. His soul is in anguish. He needs to pray. He asks His disciples to keep watch. They fail twice in their efforts to stay awake.

Jesus recognized our human frailty. He wisely states in response to the disciples, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (verse 41, ESV) Try as we might to stay awake, sometimes the need for bodily rest just takes over!

Keep in mind that even a good power nap can help you be more productive. So go for it when you can! And now you know…the “rest” of the story.

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Let’s Talk with Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays from 4-6 PM Central. To listen outside the Chicago area, tune to for live streaming or podcasts, or download the AM1160 app.

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