How To Get Away With Sleeping At Work

How To Get Away With Sleeping At Work

Lack of sleep is like being drunk on the job, which is probably more detrimental to your productivity than actually taking a quick nap break during your work hours. If you need to get away with sleeping on the job, here are a few ways to do it.Sleeping at work is a bad thing. You can decide for yourself if you feel like you’re cheating your company out of money when you sleep during work hours, but it’s particularly bad because you are not in a good situation if you have to do it regularly. At a previous job, my company kept an IKEA futon in a storage closet for when employees were overworked and exhausted (and possibly other reasons I don’t want to think about). If you need to sleep at work regularly, you either need a new job or have some serious sleep problems to fix. If it’s occasional, however, here are a few tips to get away with it.

If You Have a Private Office, Use It Hopefully this is pretty obvious to those of you who are blessed with a door. Shut it, put a do not disturb sign up, and go to sleep. Sleep in your chair. Sleep on the floor. Sleep on the floor under your desk. It’s not rocket science, it’s common sense. For added comfort, bring a pillow and/or sleeping bag.[imgclear]

Make Use of Blindsides


If you work in a space where other people can see you, you are not completely screwed. Chances are you are not entirely visible from all sides. Figure out where it’s hardest to see you and make sure your eyes are facing that direction as much as possible. Often times you won’t be seen sleeping just by facing the right direction, but if you need better cover you can put one hand on the side of your head to block your eyes from view. Put the other hand on your computer mouse or hold a pencil on top of a piece of paper. Most people will not be able to tell you aren’t really using it as they’ll get as much as a quick glimpse. Nobody’s assuming that you’re trying to sleep because that’s not what people generally do in an office. It’s not the most comfortable sleeping position, but when you’re so tired you just need to close your eyes you won’t even notice.[imgclear]

Wear Sunglasses


Nobody can see your eyes when you’re wearing sunglasses, so it’s incredibly easy to close them without a single person being the wiser. The problem is, how do you wear sunglasses in an office without people thinking you’re nuts? You tell them your eyes are tired today and you couldn’t find your prescription glasses so you had to take your prescription sunglasses. If anybody tries them on and notices they don’t do anything, just tell them they’re mild. If you actually have prescription sunglasses, however, then you’re in great shape. Either way, just put them on and close your eyes. Just like in the above tip, so long as you’re in a position that looks like working you can get away with a little shuteye.[imgclear]

Use Your Car


If you have a sleep emergency, just call it a family emergency and go sleep in your car for an hour. If you don’t have a car, take a ride on the subway or a bus. You may even wake up with some spare change in your hand if you look particularly bad that day. This is probably the easiest way to get a quick nap, but it’s not a tactic you can use too often without arousing suspicion.[imgclear]

Use the Bathroom


It may be embarrassing to come down with a case of the runs after lunch, but if you fake it you can spend some time on the toilet getting a little shuteye while everyone pities you. Sure, you probably don’t want to spend time sleeping on the toilet and the ambient sounds of the bathroom aren’t quite as pleasant as your nighttime noise generator, but sometimes we have to make do with what we’ve got. What you’ve got is a private stall and a porcelain bed. Make use of it.[imgclear]

What to Do If You Get Caught The easiest thing to do is admit it while making it look like an accident. There are plenty of scapegoats available to you: your significant other was having a private emotional problem, your young child had midnight diarrhoea, someone tried to break in to your home, and so on. There are plenty of things that can happen late at night that mess up your sleep and make you tired the next day, but the point is you still came to work. You’re not a slacker, you’re a hero. You didn’t mean to fall asleep, you just did because you were trying so hard to get your work done. If you can frame it that way, you come across as a decent person (even though you might not be). Kind bosses will even give you the rest of the day off to catch up on sleep out of the kindness of their hearts. You might feel guilty for it, but at least you’ll be able to rest up and be better the next day.

Or Just Ask Sometimes honesty is truly the way to go. Most bosses know what it’s like to be tired at work, so if you don’t ask too often you might be able to get a free nap on the job just by making the request. You can certainly use the tricks above, but nothing feels better than getting a nap at work when it’s company-approved. So, take the honest route first – if you can.

Lead photo by Sarah G

Got any other great tips for sleeping on the job? Let’s hear ’em in the comments!


  • 1. Take a long lunch. After a meal, usually the most sleepy time for me in the afternoon. Double the advantage if you go home to have your quick lunch and a quick nap.
    2. Server/storage room. We have a (small, yet fresh but noisy) server room that rarely anybody come in, except in emergency. Know your IT guy is handy in this situation.

  • This is a really silly post,…! I mean really,.. “For added comfort, bring a pillow and/or sleeping bag” Have fun finding another job…

    • One guy at my old work took this one further, when he got kicked out of his apartment he started using the sick bay as his house.

      Others wondered why he was always first to arrive, last to leave. Thought he was dedicated. Kept it up for at least 3 months.

      Kicker, he wasn’t fired.

  • As a student I remember what an awful, lackadaisical work environment the library became when students started using it as their personal napping lounge. I’ve never seen anyone asleep at their desk at work, but I can imagine the productivity-killing ripples that would spread from the napper’s desk

  • I like to download a “loading” gif and pop it on my screen, then sleep with one hand under my chin and the other on the mouse – facing the computer. People who see me from behind would just glance at my screen and think that I am waiting for a page to load 🙂

  • Until you slump forward while asleep and people think you’ve fainted and tell you to go hom… wait a minute!

    I think sleep at work indicates a bigger problem at home. Sort yourself out at home so that you’re being more productive and such.

    But if this is a once-in-a-blue-moon thing, call a sickie. No George Constanza’ing here!

  • I went to someone’s office one day only to find it unattended and the lights off. I turned the light on and the guy was sleeping, hidden under a bench desk. Also seen someone asleep in their chair at their desk and apparently a trainee we had used the sick room a lot for naps!

  • We have a computer room upstairs that the staff can use. There is a big couch there. Problem is, I work at a major hotel and there is always someone tapping away on the keyboard in there.

  • I sleep in the breastfeeding room during lunch breaks. There are pillows and a couch and everything. There are only like 2 women who use it anyway, so it’s usually empty, and everyone books to use it. So I just book an hour each day.

  • Well… at my old job at telstra, I would’ve been fired in about 30secs flat if I’d asked to take a nap.

    It would be great to work for the kind of company that would be cool with it, but I never have.

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