I need sleep.
July 21, 2009 7:38 AM   Subscribe

How can I make my office more comfortable so that I can take naps over lunch?

From time to time, I battle insomnia. This necessitates me having to take a nap over lunch. I know this isn't the best way to deal with it, but please humor me.

Here is my setup: I have my own office with a closing door. I have an L-shaped desk and a reclining office chair. There is ample floor space.

I need to figure out a way to make my power naps work for me. I also can't have anything too obvious, so cots and the like are out. I've heard of people suggesting yoga mats and the like, but I want to hear from others who are able to sleep at the office.

What sorts of things should I have that allow me to sleep well for that one hour in the middle of the day?
posted by reenum to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: White noise machine maybe. Inflatable air mattress. Some kind of sign for your door indicating you are meditating (more professional-sounding then napping) to minimize disturbances. Earplus and eye-mask if they will help.
posted by saucysault at 7:41 AM on July 21, 2009

What's the window/light situation? What about noise? Are you currently using an alarm of some kind?
posted by box at 7:41 AM on July 21, 2009

Oh, and an alarm clock to make sure you wake up. I often can't nap during the day despite being extremely tired because I panic I will not wake up for a scheduled activity. Sleep comes in cycles so you may find a 30 or 40 minute sleep more refreshing than a full hour.
posted by saucysault at 7:44 AM on July 21, 2009

I occasionally take naps in my office if I'm especially sleepy. I lie down on the (carpeted) floor with some rolled up jeans under my head for a pillow, and that's plenty comfortable for a 20-minute nap.
posted by bricoleur at 7:46 AM on July 21, 2009

If you drive and it's not too hot out, sleep in your car.

Eat a little something before you fall asleep. Makes the sleep...better, it seems to me.

Dunno if this helps, but I cannot sleep in my bed, on my back. However, power naps seem to work best if I'm on my back. FWIW.
posted by notsnot at 7:51 AM on July 21, 2009

Response by poster: I have an alarm clock, and have no windows, so the office is completely dark when I shut off the lights and close the door.
posted by reenum at 7:56 AM on July 21, 2009

I generally push a two armless chairs with fairly even seats together and stretch across them, but I'm five foot nothing and can sleep curled up on two airplane seats while the tall person in the third seat gives me dirty looks, so YMMV depending on height.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:00 AM on July 21, 2009

I had a small water fountain in one of my offices that made a short lunch time nap very tranquil.
posted by pghjezebel at 8:03 AM on July 21, 2009

How about a bedroll? Similar purpose to the yoga mat but more cushioning, and they roll up for storage and can be tucked out of the way. Sort of a compromise between a yoga mat (which does not add as much cushioning as you would think) and a cot or inflatable mattress.

And yes to a soothing cd or white noise machine. Is there some way you can avoid disturbing knocks on the door? Like a "Do Not Disturb" sign or something else?

Try to figure out timing in relation to when you eat, so you make the most of it.
posted by bunnycup at 8:04 AM on July 21, 2009

I keep a throw pillow in my office for just this reason. Floor + pillow = awesome. I also tell people not to bug me. If you have coworkers who don't realize a closed door means do not disturb (as I do!) this is very helpful.
posted by Stewriffic at 8:10 AM on July 21, 2009

Hike the chair up to full height and collapse forward onto your desk into crossed arms. Worked for me in school.

(Also, watch the caffeine. Maybe everyone doesn't get this effect, or notice it, but I find that caffeine's pleasurable buzz wears off way sooner than its less pleasurable side effects. And, of course, when the nice buzz wears off and I go for another dose, I'm just pushing the side effects further off into the evening. By side effects, I mean that "oh god I'm tired and my mind is racing and I can't stop but I also can't get anything done and I can't sleep and I have too much to do and why am I sweating so much and why can't everyone just shut the hell up" stuff. The less caffeine I have, the less that happens. And for sure, I can't have any caffeine after 2 or 3 in the afternoon, or I'm up all night. Something to consider...)
posted by gjc at 8:20 AM on July 21, 2009

Best answer: You need to consult the expert: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W__qCFWi1KA
posted by jefficator at 8:23 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

How big is your office? Could you bring in a small sofa?
posted by anastasiav at 8:33 AM on July 21, 2009

I think part of it may be to think how you sleep comfortably in your bed. I sleep on my front, and so find I'm most comfortable when I'm trying to sleep elsewhere if I can tip forward - slumped on a desk, or on planes and trains leant forward with the top of my head leaning on the seat in front. Of course, from what notsnot said up the thread this doesn't appear to be universal!

I'm one of those annoying people who can fall asleep in most places. The one thing I find really helpful is my MP3 player - so that the only noise coming in is known, expected noise.
posted by Coobeastie at 8:35 AM on July 21, 2009

Don't forget to do something about the phone - mute it or have it forwarded to voicemail. Kinda pointless to take a nap if the phone is ringing off the hook demanding your attention.
posted by HeyAllie at 8:45 AM on July 21, 2009

Can you fit under your desk? I used to nap under my L shaped desk over lunch. I had a mini pillow, and sometimes I would use a jacket as a coat. I'm a weirdo who likes the hard floor, though.
posted by frecklefaerie at 8:46 AM on July 21, 2009

Try noise cancelling headphones? Will get rid of the office background noise
posted by friedbeef at 8:49 AM on July 21, 2009

Response by poster: I'm a person who sleeps on his side. I've slept on hard floors before, and I remember it causing some pain in my hips. So, cushioning is important.
posted by reenum at 8:59 AM on July 21, 2009

Lower your seat to its lowest setting. Get on the floor, on your back, and place your calves on the seat of the chair. That should take the pressure off your back and make it easier to lay down. An inflatable travel pillow would be easy to hide.
posted by chairface at 9:21 AM on July 21, 2009

I was recently perusing the Sky magazine on an airplane and came across something like this pillow. Neat concept that would absolutely work at a desk! Sweet dreams!
posted by Sassyfras at 9:37 AM on July 21, 2009

If you have the space, a good recliner may be the ticket.
posted by bz at 9:38 AM on July 21, 2009

Best answer: I have the same problem that you do, and deal with it by napping at work on a regular basis.

Things that have made it easier for me:
  • Blankets. Two of them--one (thicker--mine's one of those double-layer fleece things) to go under you, and one (lighter) to go on top of you.
  • A fan. It blocks out noise from the rest of the office, plus it keeps you a little bit cooler. A mild drop in body temperature helps induce sleep, so the fan can also make it easier for you to fall asleep.
  • Tell someone else that you're going to nap. I tell my immediate supervisor, who's in the office next to me. More than once she's intercepted someone who's about to knock on my door and told them to come back in an hour. This is a huge deal for me, because if I'm awakened mid-nap, I have a much harder time going back to sleep.
  • Some sort of a pillow. I have one of those foam pillows (I think I got it at Target for about $15) and it works for both back support when I'm working and a headrest when I'm napping.
  • Set the alarm. I give myself 45 minutes from when I lay down--much longer and I find that I'm groggy when I get up.
  • Do something physical for a few minutes once you wake up. I do about five minutes of stretches to get myself out of nap mode and back into work mode.
  • Sounds crazy, but I've found that a few drops of some sort of pleasant-smelling oil on my pillow makes it a bit easier for me to sleep.
I've cleared out one of my desk drawers, and it pretty much holds nothing but nap stuff. It's easier than trying to explain why I've got a pile of blankets, you know?
posted by MeghanC at 9:56 AM on July 21, 2009

Go-kots are surprisingly comfortable, and you can easily set them up (in 30 seconds) and stow them out of sight.
posted by umbĂș at 9:58 AM on July 21, 2009

Best answer: Quick and dirty solution that I used for years - I'm assuming you have a standard medium to above quality rolling office chair with fabric covered upholstery. And this only makes sense with a carpeted floor. Flip chair backwards 90 deg so that the back of the chair is now on the floor, and the seat is now vertical. The back of the chair forms a nice pillow allowing (for me anyway) a comfortable nap on one's back.
posted by Kevin S at 10:21 AM on July 21, 2009

Response by poster: Sadly, my office chair is a newer plastic mesh model. I knew I should have picked an old school fabric chair!
posted by reenum at 11:40 AM on July 21, 2009

A good nap for me would entail: loosening my belt, pants and shirt and lying on a small pillow on the floor under my desk with jacket as a blanket while listening to Pzizz. Try it.
posted by handabear at 1:13 PM on July 21, 2009

Another sleeping pad option is one of these. Super comfortable and packs down to the size of a Nalgene bottle so it would be easy to stash.

The only time I ever slept at work, I locked myself into the server closet. Although I was sleeping on a thin carpeted floor using my coat as a pillow, it was awesome--completely dark, lots of CPU fans producing white noise, and the air conditioning system in there kept it plenty cold. Plus nobody would have ever thought to look for me there, so I got to nap through lunch completely undisturbed. Can you get access to any areas like this?
posted by jtfowl0 at 5:25 PM on July 21, 2009

I used to keep a thermarest and a pillow under my desk at work. They worked great. And an eye mask. :)
posted by reddot at 7:51 PM on August 5, 2009

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