The tyranny of the eight-hour block reinforces a narrow conception of sleep and how we should approach it. … The idea that we should sleep in eight-hour chunks is relatively recent.
A number of recent studies suggest that any deep sleep — whether in an eight-hour block or a 30-minute nap — primes our brains to function at a higher level, letting us come up with better ideas, find solutions to puzzles more quickly, identify patterns faster and recall information more accurately.
Gradual acceptance of the notion that sequential sleep hours are not essential for high-level job performance has led to increased workplace tolerance for napping and other alternate daily schedules.
Employees at Google, for instance, are offered the chance to nap at work because the company believes it may increase productivity.
Most of us are not fortunate enough to work in office environments that permit, much less smile upon, on-the-job napping. But there are increasing suggestions that greater tolerance for altered sleep schedules might be in our collective interest
Randall is the author of Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep, one of the best science books of 2012.