I have always been intrigued by research on sleep, sleep deprivation, and naps. In brief, a pretty big body of research shows that sleep deprivation, make people unhappy, nasty to others, and undermines their creativity and performance. And a related body of research suggests that even a short nap can help combat the damage caused by sleep deprivation.
Along these lines, a new study of naps summarized at BPS compared the performance of students (measured by their ability to identify out-of-pitch tones) who had no nap after lunch, who had a 20 minute nap leaning forward and resting their head on a desk, or had a 20 minute nap lying down. The researchers found that people who had either kind of nap performed better then those who did not nap, but those who napped lying down had the best performance of all.
Napping is dangerous in some situations -- as Homer demonstrates above. But there are lots of jobs where sleeping in the job is simply viewed as evidence of laziness or lack of motivation. This new research suggests that we might change the norms in some workplaces -- a nap room sounds kind of nice, doesn't it?
P.S. The citation is Zhao, D., Zhang, Q., Fu, M., Tang, Y., & Zhao, Y. (2010). Effects of physical positions on sleep architectures and post-nap functions among habitual nappers. Biological Psychology, 83 (3), 207-213