READERS familiar with The Wind
in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, may recall that Badger, after a hearty
breakfast, was in the habit of retiring to his study and settling himself
in an armchair "with his legs up on another and a red cotton handkerchief
over his face".
As a generally-unsleeping watchdog of the pubIic
weal, I admire Badger, who, in human social terms, seemed upper
working-class with a character in the style of a forceful but kindly trade
union leader like Jack Jones, of the Transport and General Workers’ Union.
He was also physically-pragmatic in that he knew the restorative value of
a snooze, a bit of shut eye or - call, it what you will - forty winks.
am in the post-lunch, quick-kip club that likes a bit of instant oblivion,
when available, so that I have the possibility of waking like a
pigmy-sized giant refreshed.
Thus, I am one with other
daylight, brief sleep-snatchers whose minds have rocked the cradle of
history such as Churchill, Napoleon, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison and
While there was a time when meadow, grove and
stream, the earth and every common sight, to me did seem apparelled in
celestial light, it was also a time when I needed at least eight hours’
unbroken sleep to restitch the frayed mental tissues after a day’s
grappling with intransigent verbs, unlocking nominative cases and
replacing fused participles.
If I had spent a night
pounding my pillow and battling with blankets, I tended next day, in some
work-free interval, to seek a resting place somewhere in the labyrinthine
viscera of The Scotsman’s old North Bridge headquarters, where there were
some temporarily abandoned offices with open roll-top desks into which one
could creep; some colleagues used nothing else.
offices have few or no such refuges; open plan arrangements and strip
lighting making the staff feel like bacilli under a microscope and earning
the title of a former television detective serial, No Hiding Place.
unacceptable. Managements should provide staff slumber rooms into which
tired toilers could stagger and doss down in a setting like an elephants’
graveyard and so combat metabolic disturbances including irritability and
lack of concentration.
In the United States, companies have introduced
"power naps" in which executives are encouraged to slump like dead bats at
their desks for 20 minutes and awaken, hopefully, with creativity and
In a wake-up call for more office sleep, Professor
Richard Wiseman, a University of Hertfordshire psychologist, claims that
beds should be installed in workplaces to get the best production from
their staff. In a comprehensive university survey, nearly a third of
people revealed that their brains went into overdrive before drifting off
to sleep. Only 11 per cent believed they had their most creative thoughts
While the research failed to reveal surging
creativity when the sleepers awoke, inspirational results might be tested
by a Japanese hotel concept - characterised by honeycomb-type capsules in
place of rooms - planned for Britain by Simon Woodroffe, the owner of the
Yo! Sushi chain of restaurants.
The capsules, ten square
metres in size, are luxurious, with TV, rotating beds and aircraft-style
lighting, but for use by office staff in constructive-slumber mode, they
could be fashioned to suggest the stark austerity of monks’ cells into
which staffers could lurch for a permitted period and possibly emerge with
visionary gleams in their eyes and uplifting ideas about boosting the
company’s exports rather than staggering out with a splitting headache and
the realisation that the new redundancy figures should have been handed to
the board meeting half an hour ago.
The capsules could keep staff
as snug as cockles in their shells and be picked out when needed and would
be useful in checking on the whereabouts of personnel who might otherwise
be tempted to improve their creativity in the nearest pub.
capsules could not only benefit the tired workplace masses, but could also
provide a ready, easily-replenished reservoir of talent, alert and eager
to work their keyboard fingers and production-line hands to the bone,
possibly preventing a yawning gulf between staff and management.
say "nodding doing" to dropping-off zones, workers should arise from their
unofficial slumbers and urge them to bedrock action - badgering is the