It was ten minutes into my 30 minute presentation. I looked up to make eye contact with the senior client and … he was … sound asleep.  Chin on chest, snoring, the head bob. 

The man was Mayor in the Land of Nod.

You can imagine how disconcerting this was.  But it was a boardroom in Tokyo 20+ years ago and I am almost over it now.  Afterward, my Japanese colleagues were quick to explain that this was actually a compliment – if the senior-most client nods off, it means he has confidence in the presenter and his colleagues, who he trusts to make the correct decision.

At least that was the line my new friends were spinning to the naïve American (and I was only too happy to believe it).

All these years later, it turns out my conked out client was on to something.  A recent study from the University of California at Berkeley shows that an afternoon nap can boost a person’s brain power. 

Our friends in Madrid may be able to confirm this – the study also indicated that the afternoon siesta not only contributes to work-life balance, but is “essential if the brain is to take on additional information needed for work or study.”

According to a story in “The Independent,” the study was comprised of 39 healthy volunteers who were divided into two groups (Note to Cal Bears everywhere – 39 is not an even number.)

At noon, both groups took part in a series of demanding learning tests, intended to fatigue a part of the brain called the hippocampus.  (If I recall correctly from the story I just read, the hippocampus is connected to short-term memory.  I think.) 

Anyway, one group was asked to take a 90 minute nap at 2pm, while the other group continued to work away.  At 6pm, the two groups were reconvened.

By golly, don’t you know the group that enjoyed the afternoon nap not only performed better, they actually improved their capacity to learn. 

I don’t know that anyone engaged in gainful employment could ever get away with a 90 minute nap on a regular basis.

But 10 or 15 would be sweet. I have just the presentation for you.