How Naptime Can Make Meetings More Productive

A short period of rest can reinvigorate tired travelers -- and make conferences less stressful

As a professional meeting planner, you know better than anyone how productive and educational a well-designed conference or tradeshow exhibition can be. Bringing together a diverse group of people to learn about new products and services, receive professional training, attend workshop sessions, share ideas and network with peers is a valuable experience for attendees and an excellent investment for the companies that send their employees.

But while meeting professionals typically obsess over every angle to ensure their event's success, most tend to overlook one obvious point: Event participants are tired. Many have traveled a considerable distance to attend the event, and if they're not jetlagged, they're stressed from sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, footsore from walking around cavernous exhibition halls, tense from trying to keep up with what's happening back at the office and struggling to stay focused during back-to-back workshop sessions.

Conferences, trade shows and other meeting events are inherently fatiguing for these reasons, and it's up to meeting planners to give attendees relief beyond lodging options and a cup of coffee. Fortunately, there's a solution: giving attendees the option to take a nap. 

This might seem like a surprising solution to some planners, but there's solid science showing the benefits that naps provide to the workday. Peer-reviewed studies indicate that people who take a brief nap during the day are more alert and better able to retain what they've learned. That's why organizations as diverse as Google, Thrive Global and Capital One have installed napping facilities at their sites; they understand that well-rested employees are more effective. 

Napping facilities are widely used at various universities for the same reason: to help users stay sharp and be more receptive to learning. Science also indicates that naps have benefits beyond improvements in cognitive functioning; daytime rest helps athletes perform better. In fact, research cited by the Gatorade Sports Science Institute shows that naps can help athletes who have to travel for competitions to rebound from the interruption to their daily routines and the disruption of circadian rhythms that often accompany road trips. 

Wellness has become a concern for modern meeting planners who want to make sure attendees maximize their productivity and take advantage of every learning opportunity. A recent SAP SuccessFactors conference featured a wellness lounge with masseuse tables, massage chairs and napping pods where participants could take a short rest and wake up refreshed and ready to learn. Other conferences have featured napping pods in VIP or general use areas to give attendees a discreet way to stay rested without missing important events. 

So, next time you're planning an event and you want to make sure the people who attend are alert and ready to learn, think beyond the coffee break. Consider giving tired travelers a place to take a quick nap. Participants will emerge more rested, less stressed and ready to get the most out of the event you've planned so carefully. 

Christopher Lindholst is CEO and cofounder of MetroNaps. A pioneer in corporate fatigue management solutions since 2003, Christopher has built a client base and established partnerships on four continents. Christopher is a frequent speaker at corporations and conferences, where he talks about implementing sleep into corporate well-being programs. An avid napper, having amassed nearly 5,000 naps over his 13-year sleep career, Christopher takes a 14-minute nap every workday afternoon. Christopher obtained a Bachelor's at Wesleyan University and a Masters in International Business at the Columbia University Business School.