24

In brief:

What is a good way to request a manager to let me sleep somewhere for about 30 minutes when I am sleepy, without appearing lazy? I actually feel super productive after taking a short power nap and I don't have resort to being a caffeine junkie/druggie.

In detail:

Sometimes, one just cannot get enough sleep due to reasons such as :

  1. Hectic schedules and stress.
  2. Caring for a toddler at night.
  3. Waking early for a long commute.
  4. Using too much caffeine, especially close to sleeping time.
  5. Waking up too soon and not being able to sleep quickly again etc.

There are times when I barely got 6 hours of sleep each day for a week or two, except on the weekends, of course. This often affects my productivity at work and distresses me a bit.

I have tried things like using moderate amounts of caffeine, sleeping early, taking short breaks and moving around at work and more. Most of the times, they don't work too well and I still end up feeling a bit sleepy at work. When I am at home, I have noticed that a 30 - 60 minute nap (usually 30 minutes is enough) helps me to feel energetic and much more productive for the rest of the day.

Google realizes the importance of sleep and provides nap pods for its employees. Obviously, not all of us work for companies that provide similar benefits or even understand the importance of sleep. I don't know how much google employees use the pods or if they frown upon using it too often, but such perks are nice to have.

Nap pods: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/inside-google-workplaces-from-perks-to-nap-pods/

  • What country are you in? Can you do your napping during your lunch or any other generally available breaks? – PM 77-1 Nov 27 '15 at 21:06
  • I will have the possibility to take breaks, the only thing I am afraid of is not to find a place to "hide" to take a nap during the break. – heinertillo Nov 27 '15 at 21:17
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    Why do you think they'd laugh at you? They approached you for being a high performer and this is how you do it. Call it siesta, call it power nap, it works for you. – rath Nov 27 '15 at 21:42
  • I'd be open to the conversation as well as be prepared to negotiate the time factor here as they may expect other time to be worked in lieu, e.g. instead of working 9-5 you work 8-6 so that you can have a couple of hours to have that nap. – JB King Nov 27 '15 at 22:28
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    @rath - They would laugh at him. Does he need mood lighting to wake up too? An afternoon latte service? A massage after meetings? I would certainly be giggling if I had an employee ask for a nap (everyday nap - I can see someone under the weather needing a nap). Now an interviewee is a full laugh. – blankip Nov 28 '15 at 12:57

10 Answers 10

49

What is a good way to request a manager to let me sleep somewhere for about 30 minutes when I am sleepy, without appearing lazy?

If you are in the US, it's likely that "asking to nap" will call unwanted attention to yourself. While your manager may not conclude that you are "lazy", she/he may still view that request negatively (such as "this person can't deal with his personal life effectively" or "this person is trying to make his personal problems my problem").

Instead, find a place where you can nap during your lunch time, so that others don't need to know. Perhaps an office with a door you can close, or even better, your car. If you choose this route, make sure you have an alarm to wake you up so you don't oversleep.

Work on making sure you get enough sleep at night. Go to bed earlier, party less, watch what you eat, avoid using too much caffeine, especially close to sleeping time, change your lunch contents (perhaps light food will make you less sleepy), visit the doctor and make sure you don't have a physical issue (like sleep apnea). Being unable to stay awake during work hours isn't normal.

If there is a medical problem here, or if you have temporary issues (such as a newborn at home) - then talk with your manager, and see if you can reach an accommodation. But based on what you have written so far, that isn't the case - it's just a personal nap preference issue, and thus is a home problem, not a work problem.

In my experience, managers don't want you to bring your home problems into the workplace. When you are in work, I'd expect you to be working, except during your breaks. If you are excessively tired and need to nap, you want to find a way to do that on your own time, and try not to impede on your work.

Unless all else fails, don't bring this to your manager's attention.

  • 9
    +1 to if you decide to nap on your break, make sure people don't know about it. As stupid as it may seem, American culture seems to react to sleeping on the job negatively, no matter what the circumstances. If someone finds out that you are sleeping in the time frame of work, even if it is on your own time, you will most likely gain a negative perception. This will probably hold true even if you need to sleep because of a medical issue. Your manager will likely be understanding towards something like that, but it is likely that not all of your coworkers will. – Conor Aug 10 '15 at 14:26
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    This perception in the US sounds horrible. In Switzerland, while it may not be common place, it is not unheard of that even larger companies (say, in the finance sector, or the government) provide resting rooms where employees can lay down for a nap during their lunch break. – fgysin Dec 2 '15 at 15:58
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    US working culture sometimes expects you to guzzle 15 coffees and keep your eyes open for 10+ hours at 10% productivity instead of working for 6 hours at 100% productivity. – Nelson Oct 24 '16 at 1:52
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    @Nelson - true. If staying awake for 10 hours at work is something that is a regular problem for you, it might be better if you worked outside the US. – WorkerDrone Oct 24 '16 at 11:34
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    @Nelson yes there are some companies like that. It's very frustrating for IT people who sometimes just need to sit and think or clear their heads. – Retired Codger Oct 24 '16 at 14:37
9

Is is possible to ask during my job interview if I can nap at work ?

You can ask anything you want at the interview, whether it impacts on you getting the job or not is another matter. Power napping is fairly well known, but it's promoters are few and far between in as far as setting aside space in the workplace for it. Most people do not take power naps or believe in their efficacy. But the ones who do, tend to be strong advocates.

In general interviewers look unfavourably on requests for special treatment or anything out of the ordinary that might impact on others.

So it would depend a lot on the interviewers as to how they take it. However nothing stops you asking.

  • +1. Main hurdles will indeed be assigning an office space and the fact that they'll have to allow their current employees to jump on the powernap bandwagon if they want to. Because of those barriers to entry I'd suggest not asking about this until the offer stage when you're negotiating. – Lilienthal Nov 28 '15 at 10:58
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    You can ask if you can take a dump on the boss's desk too. I am not understanding your point - although I believe most of your answers are spot on you are hedging too much on this one. Your answer isn't answering the question. Of course you don't ask to take a nap during an interview. – blankip Nov 28 '15 at 11:12
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    @blankip yeah it was a bit wishy washy I must admit, just that one of my clients actually has a rec/nap room for his staff. – Kilisi Nov 28 '15 at 11:18
  • This answer was posted on a duplicate and merged hither. – Monica Cellio Jan 15 '17 at 4:55
6

Sleep is something that you need to manage personally, and even though companies like Google may have 'nap pods', they are by far a rarity and should not be considered the norm. It would likely be a bad idea to cite them as an example.

Your Arguments:

You can have 37 points on why your company should expend resources on a place for employees to nap, but the fact is every one of your reasons is mostly personal;

"Hectic schedules and stress"; Is your personal life stressful? Then it's personal. Is your work too stressful? Then they'll question if you can handle your position - nonetheless consider you for promotions.

"Caring for a toddler at night"; Intensely personal. It has nothing to do with your workplace. It was your decision to raise a child, your company won't accept child-rearing as an answer to sleeping at the office. If your child keeps you up at night, move its crib/bed away from your bedroom, or if you can't purchase $2 earplugs.

"Waking early for a long commute"; Again, personal. Look at moving or seeking more geographically appropriate work. Also, they might just say "Get to bed earlier" if you need to wake up early. It's not their fault you live far away. For reference, my office employs 3 people who live at least an hour away; none of us complain about sleep.

"Using too much caffeine, especially close to sleeping time"; Again, personal. Learn to manage your caffeine intake. If you're drinking coffee in the afternoon, stop. It's like asking your office to install dimmer lights because alcohol gives you a hangover.

"Waking up too soon and not being able to sleep quickly again etc"; Also personal. Additionally defeats your argument for sleeping quarters: If you can't fall asleep or wake up quickly, how will a 15-minute nap fix this?

It's just a bad idea

Not to be harsh, but your arguments will get you laughed out of the office. The fact is sleep is an intensely personal thing, and very few companies have the type of culture which will try to accommodate its employees on that personal a level. Simply put, if they aren't already doing it - it's highly unlikely they will ever start.

Additionally, even if you supplied the furniture, the company would need to set aside space, abide by hygiene laws & stipulations, and divert resources which could otherwise be spent elsewhere. The "Nap Area" could have easily housed another employee or storage area.

When it would be a good idea:

For the sake of completeness, there are some office situations that may benefit from 'nap pods';

Industries with overaggressive work hours are the biggest example, such as game development studios which may see employees work double-time during crunch periods; in this case on-site sleep to prevent overexertion may be needed.

Companies which may have remote offices; For example, research stations may be several hours away from 'civilization' or have unreliable transit. Situations like these routinely run shifts which span days to make the travel worth it, so sleeping quarters are included.

There are other valid examples, but generally speaking sleeping quarters are an extreme rarity, and usually only brought in when absolutely necessary. Companies like Google only do this because their employees are so highly prized they have to do incredible things to keep them; some of their engineers literally invented the fields they specialise in - that level of rarity in employees means their workplace scales to accommodate.

Other Factors

Other factors might be impacting your ability to work; check around the office and see if more cost-effective measures might benefit everyone;

  • Is the lighting poor? If it is, then ask to have the lighting looked at, and see if others are affected by it.
  • Is there air conditioning? Heat / humidity does actually make you more tired.
  • Is there fresh air? Can you open windows? If you can't, consider bringing in some plants to the office if it's bright enough and you have permission.
  • Is the work repetitive? Consider switching back-and-fourth between tasks.
  • Are the chairs / furniture acceptable? Poorly designed chairs can cause you to slump, which in turn makes you tired.
  • Can you convert your work area to a "standing workstation" (meaning you don't sit)
  • Are you eating healthy food? See about bringing in small snacks or fruit and eating healthy throughout the day.

Lastly, and this one is personal: - Have you been to a doctor lately? If you have severe sleep issues despite a HEALTHY lifestyle, you may have an issue like low blood pressure or nutrient deficiencies.

  • 1
    Friends tell me that babies sometimes need care at midnight. How do you avoid that ? Sometimes, its just not possible to live near the office if you are married and have kids. Everyone's body is different. After some hours of work and lunch, I get powerful sleep which almost knocks me out. This rarely happens at night. So, 30-45 is in the day is still good for me. Don't need nap pods or rooms, only for some accomodation whenever possible. I'll take care of diet, routine etc. on my end. When things still go bad, its nice to have a place to take a break. – Borat Sagdiyev Jul 8 '14 at 5:13
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    Again, babies might be an issue at home, but it's not your employers responsibility to accommodate any lost sleep. That's for you to work out. And just because you have a long drive does not mean you should push the issue onto your employer. Clearly you have a car, so why not take your lunch and sleep in your vehicle? Either way, no matter how many reasons you have - sleep is a personal issue, and it will be frowned upon if you attempt to make the workplace accommodate a preventable issue. – Kver Jul 8 '14 at 16:39
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    Seems very inhuman work place you are describing... :-) Basically the issue as I understand is just asking some understanding for having naps during a work day. Any sensible rational manager should agree with this if it improves productivity. Ideally the managers should help the workers to get their reasonable needs met for the common good of the business (and shared joy of living). – FooF Jan 7 '15 at 3:44
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    I would run far away from any company with Nap pods. TO me this indicates they want you to work excessive hours. If you can't make it through a normal day without a nap you whether need medical help or you need to change your lifestyle. Well over 90% of companies aren't going to look kindly on you asking for a nap during work hours unless you are making a workplace accommodation for a disability.. – HLGEM Aug 10 '15 at 13:57
6

There are some cultures in which taking a nap at work is seen as a good thing (Japan, I believe): "look! He works so hard he fell asleep at his desk!"

However, in the Western world it's typically looked on in a negative light. Why?

1. You're expected to be rested

Your company expects you to come in to work fully ready to shoulder your responsibilities. You shouldn't be drunk or high on drugs for example. You should be physically and mentally ready to perform your job. A lot of companies have clauses in their hiring contracts that employees must arrive well rested, as that can impair your performance, or even your safety (a sleepy construction worker might do something silly and get hurt).

2. Perception

People will always jump to conclusions, even from the smallest things.

We've had people on this site ask for advice on how to deal with coworkers who think "they don't work hard enough" because they leave early (they worked a 8-4 schedule but everyone else worked 9-5). A perception formed in the office that this person was lazy. That they had some special arrangement to leave early, which MUST MEAN that they don't do as much work.

There's no way that you're going to be able to communicate to all your coworkers that you take a nap at lunch in order to be refreshed, not because you were out drinking until 3 AM the night before. People will simply jump to conclusions.

Or imagine a customer visiting the company office and seeing you asleep at your desk. What will they think?

Note: here's a story my boss once told me. As a junior manager he would get together with some other people at lunch and play cards in the lunch room. It's their time, and they can relax in any way they want, right? Well, a senior manager took him aside one day, and told him that people are forming the opinion that he isn't serious enough to move up the corporate ladder. Why? Because he spends his lunch playing games. It doesn't matter how hard you work throughout the day: that one thing about you will become your defining feature in other people's perception.

3. Office politics

If you start taking naps, what's to stop some other colleague from doing the same thing? Imagine people going to sleep all over the office, the other's walking as if on egg shells in order to avoid waking them up, etc. No manager is going to put up with that.

Also, maybe you're perfectly adapted to taking only a 30 minute power nap. What's to stop Joe from taking advantage of this new trend in the office, going out the night before, and then falling asleep at lunch for a solid hour or two? Who's going to want to deal with waking him up? It's awkward, and not something bosses want to deal with.

4. Special case

One other thing I want to warn you against is becoming the "special case" in the workplace. There's always that one person who wants special privileges that no one else has - managers/the team tend to lose their patience with these kind of people pretty quickly.

Some possible solutions:

If you really can't live without your power nap, try going out to your car and napping there (with your manager's knowledge).

If all else fails, maybe ask for an office that you could close the door of at lunch and do your thing.

However I feel compelled to advise you that your chances of getting your wish are incredibly low.

Please come back and tell us what your company's reaction was! I'm sure your experience will help others in the future.

Good luck!

  • It might be that the nap-taker had to care for a toddler all night long instead of being out drinking. I concede that all these things do happen but this is very much a slippery slope that you're describing, and definitely not present in all work environments. – rath Nov 27 '15 at 21:47
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    @rath - I have not worked at of heard of a single company where that proposition would be well received. There may very well be such a company out there, but I haven't come across them. I wish the OP lots of luck. – AndreiROM Nov 27 '15 at 21:56
  • I'm assuming that by "prescription drugs" you're referring to medicinal marijuana and the like rather than life-saving medications with potential side-effects? (I've edited out the reference.) – Lilienthal Nov 28 '15 at 11:02
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    As for the politics issue: all that is avoided by having, you know, managers. It's perfectly possible to lay down some ground rules about use of powernaps and preventing their abuse is no different from preventing abuse of sick leave, company resources and so on. This reads more like an attack on the concept rather than advice that will be useful to the OP and would be better posted on the linked question – Lilienthal Nov 28 '15 at 11:08
  • This answer was posted on a duplicate and merged hither. – Monica Cellio Jan 15 '17 at 4:55
5

If you have a one-hour lunch break, you could ask your management for their OK to spend 30 minutes of that lunch hour on a nap on company premises. You could explain to them that your day is not an 8-hour day but an 18-hour day thanks to Mr. or Miss Toddler, for whom both you and your significant other work at home :)

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    Don't have kids, not dating, not married. Anyway, I feel sleepy only 1-2 hours after meals. So, I can't use the 30mins of lunch time. – Borat Sagdiyev Jul 7 '14 at 5:17
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    @JoeStrazzere Like it or not,The OP is already bringing the OP's sleep debt in the office. Better to deal with it than not. From the management's point of view, making some accomodation to help the OP manage their sleep debt and their energy level helps their performance and keeps their morale up. It's called enlightened self interest. I have seen time ana again a bunch of employees drag their butts after lunch and fumble their way through the afternoon because management was frowning on naps - Just because it's business as usual that many drag their butts after lunch does not make it optimal. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 7 '14 at 10:10
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    @BoratSagdiyev I had a CEO who insisted on having weekly staff meetings where he go on and on in a monotone voice for 2-3 hours straight. Usually, he had me snoring within 15 minutes :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 8 '14 at 5:21
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    @VietnhiPhuvan - Is your boss free between 12-5 am ? :) Give me his phone number. – Borat Sagdiyev Jul 8 '14 at 5:23
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    @BoratSagdiyev if you feel lethargic after eating see a doctor ASAP it can be a symptom of kidney problems – Pepone Aug 11 '15 at 16:02
5

Power naps debunked

There have been numerous studies debunking the power of the power nap. To the point where BBC did a special on it backfiring on a number of companies. Basically the employees did not wake up on time, they were still half asleep for a while, or they simply never recovered during the day.

What you are proposing is to do something counterproductive to the office efficiency. Not only that but allowing a new comer to do this will almost be like making it an accepted "new" policy.

I hire a lot of techies. If you even brought up taking a nap you would need to be some sort of recluse genius for me to even take you serious. And given that you brought it up I would not trust you with almost any interpersonal conversations and make sure you were just a coder in a dungeon. If you already know the answer, don't ask.

  • 1
    Honestly, I find it not accurate to generalize based on this single study. One could again cite BBC which showed the opposite effect bbc.com/future/story/20150106-how-to-nap-like-a-pro – heinertillo Nov 28 '15 at 12:24
  • @heinertillo - there are tons of positives around the theory. There isn't any examples of this working in an office environment. In theory it works, because each person can gain by doing what works for them. The problem is what you are doing isn't necessarily working with the others you work with or your tasks. There are TONS of studies that show that this doesn't work in an office. I just referenced one. There isn't anything or much saying a company did it and it works. (and I don't count sweat shops where employees are basically sleeping there) – blankip Nov 28 '15 at 12:45
  • This answer was posted on a duplicate and merged hither. – Monica Cellio Jan 15 '17 at 4:55
2

To answer the highlighted part of the question, you can ask whatever you want in an interview. If you felt the issue is so important that you wouldn't work with a company who wouldn't/couldn't accommodate you then it's important to establish these things early.

I think if they're desperate to work with you they'll try their best to meet any requests they see as realistic. I very much doubt they'd laugh at you for asking and depending on how you phrase the question I doubt it would rule you out as a candidate.

Is it possible to instead of requesting a nap break but to ask if you can have a flexible lunch time? If you took yourself off to your car or wherever to quietly have a your nap in that time I doubt they'd object.

This would avoid the need to raise the issue of asking for a nap or even require much in the way of special accommodation from your prospective employer. The majority of the companies I have worked with have allowed me to take my lunch time in a wide time slot so you might not even need to raise the issue at all.

  • This answer was posted on a duplicate and merged hither. – Monica Cellio Jan 15 '17 at 4:55
1

This is a cultural issue, as well as a physiological issue, and a self-management and self-care issue.

Yes, power naps - sleeps of less than 60 minutes length, which are stopped before sleep inertia kicks in - are very effective at restoring function when you are suffering from sleep deprivation. But they should not be used as your principle sleep management strategy. They should be used intermittently as a short-term fix, not used frequently and regularly as part of a daily routine.

Firstly, you need to identify everything that is within your power to change. And work on those.

1) getting to bed and to sleep early enough to accommodate the early rise necessitated by your long commute.

2) Reading up which foods make you sleepy after eating, and which make you feel more alive and alert. Make sure to tailor your lunchtime eating to suit.

3) Hectic schedules and stress. Look into time-management techniques. I personally recommend "Do It Tomorrow" by Mark Forster. It is a system designed to optimise your stress levels, and therefore promote your productivity and effectiveness in the longer run.

Working life is a marathon, not a sprint. Be the tortoise, not the hare.

This means being able to schedule tasks and priorities based on capacity, and not solely on the wishes of the requester.

They make the requests, they tell you of their relative priorities. You tell them the resultant effect on delivery dates. Then there is a period of negotiation. It is up to them whether they decide to change or drop the new request, or re-prioritise their previous requests.

4) Using too much caffeine, especially near bedtime. You don't need us to tell you what to do about this, do you? But just in case - do not have caffeinated drinks less than 4 hours before bedtime. Unless there are specific circumstances such as a long drive, where you'll arrive home at bedtime. If those special circumstances croip up often, look to see how you can re-structure your life.

5) Waking up too soon, and being unable to get back to sleep. This one means you need to look into effective sleep management techniques. And of course there is (many an) app for that. :-)

6) Caring for a toddler. Well, it gets worse once they become a surly teen! Enjoy these moments while they last.

Lastly, if you still have sleepiness problems after working on issues 1 to 5, then it's time to put the toddler up for adoption see what reasonable adjustments your management can make to accommodate your role as a parent of a young child.

This last section is an issue that it is not unreasonable to expect an employer to help with. But only after you have dealt with issues 1 to 5. There is no need for them to put in effort to help you if you have not already made all reasonable attempts to help yourself.

1

I want to add some perspective here since I am startled regarding all the negativity towards a restive phase. I've worked considerable time self-employed, and my most productive times ever were when I worked sessions of about 9 hours and then slept for 6 hours, losing synchronization with daylight. With forced synchronization (partner), the next best was sleeping about 10pm to 1am, sneaking out and working till something like 5am (or just work through), turning back in till 7am, start day together, get to work until 1pm or so, eat lunch and go to sleep until about 5pm, work again to 10pm, repeat.

At any rate, in my most productive phases I had at least two non-trivial sleep phases alternating with highly productive work phases.

Being employed made this difficult. In particular, the after-lunch time was unsuitable for creative work, and when meetings/talks were scheduled, I invariably tended to nod off.

Nor was I the only one.

So one key takeaway is to organize your work day with goals realistic for the time of day and your personal state. There is no point in pretending that you have equal amounts of creativity and activity available at every hour when you know this not to be the case.

One possibility when you need to stay active longer is to replace lunch by a snack and do a more serious meal after work when there is an option for going to bed in due time. Just taking a snack might also free time for doing a nap in lunch break time in case that you can find an arrangement/place for doing so matching your workplace etiquette.

  • 1
    Hi user44517 and welcome to the site -- your observations/experience is valuable, but can you edit your answer to address the original question, which is how to make the request to the manager? – mcknz Nov 30 '15 at 20:22
-1

Turning up to work and saying to your boss that family and life gets in the way of you sleeping over night, and that you would like to sleep during office hours is unlikely to be well received.

However, turning it around, and saying that life and family are causing you some issues, and you need to make a couple of changes to remove the risk of it affecting your work is a lot more professional.

Suggesting it as a trial for 4 weeks to see if you and your boss notice an improvement may make it easier for your boss to say yes initially.

It is also worth pointing out that there are several medical conditions that affect sleep and/or cause sleepiness, in addition to the broken sleep that young children cause. Examples from the top of my head that are fairly common include Clinical Depression, Diabetes, Sleep Apnea.

As these are all potentially serious conditions, have a read up on symptoms and consider if talking to your GP(doctor) is appropriate.

  • Yes, the question is "how to approach her boss" - suggesting a short term trial is clearly an approach. – Michael Shaw Oct 23 '16 at 23:54
  • Hi @JoeStrazzere added some bold to point out the bit you are ignoring in your summary. – Michael Shaw Oct 24 '16 at 7:18

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