As globalization increases the scope of companies, there is one problem that keeps damaging the idea of international travel for employees: the inevitable jet lag. For employees who regularly have to change time zones, it is a real source of stress that undermines morale and productivity. For employers, it is a drawback of which one can only hope that the effects are not too bad. But is this really the case? Isn’t a power nap a cure for jet lag?
The effect of jet lag is disastrous: a reduction of 20 to 50% on work performance[i]. This is difficult to deal with when the employee has to go on with a normal work week after a short work trip of two to three days. This is when our biological rhythm clashes with our rhythm of work.
Taking a day off, medications and other coffees can help to “hang in there”, but they are temporary fixes and potentially dangerous. Remedies that only push the problem away rather than address it are not recommended. In fact, the safest solution is also the simplest: the “power nap” makes it possible to rehabilitate the body quickly… but surely!
Rehabilitation in a cocoon
Experts agree on the uselessness of trying to align the body to a new time zone when the duration of the trip is only one or two days: this is simply impossible because for every hour difference, our body takes a day and a half to recover[ii]. However, wisely planned micro-naps are much more effective for up to five days of travel[iii]. Studies on pilots prove that a “flash nap” of twenty-six minutes allows, once back at the cockpit, to increase flight performance by 34% and vigilance by 54%. [iv]
The ideal solution is therefore to take “power naps”, but only if it is done in the right conditions: light protection, calm atmosphere, etc. These factors, combined, make it possible to cope with jet lag and limit its effects on productivity. In addition, having a coffee just before your micro-nap will accentuate the “boost” [v].
Many companies have already understood this by implementing nap cocoons: at their disposal, they benefit both employees returning from a trip abroad and visitors who experience it. They allow employees to rest, to increase alertness and to improve human relations: more rested people are, in general, less sensitive and more engaging.
Our Nap references:
[iii] ARENDT J (2009), ” Managing jet lag : some of the problems and possible new solutions “, Sleep Med Rev., 13(4):249-56