Generally speaking, is it acceptable to take a nap or rest (involving closing eyes) after lunch in software/technology companies in US (if it matters, in places on the two coasts, such as NYC, Bay areas in CA )?

If yes, how long is it acceptable to take a nap or rest? Half an hour?

The reason I mentioned US is because there are significant differences between different countries or cultures in the world. In some countries, taking a 3 hour break at noon for lunch and a nap is a norm.

There might even be significant differences between companies in US. I am asking about the consensus, and general/most cases, in particular when a company doesn't have explicit rules on the matter.

The book Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times by Judith Hanson Lasater suggested quite some restorative yoga poses to perform in office when feeling tired/sleepy. The following are simple poses:

  • put your arms on your desk and rest your head in your arms, or

  • lie back in a couch in a common area, and close your eyes,

  • find an empty room such as an auditorium inside a company, sit there and close eyes.

There are more exaggerating poses than the above three simple ones, but not as exaggerating as regular yoga poses. They generally involve closing eyes and look like taking a rest or nap in various postures.

But I heard of a story that an intern in a software/technology company in NYC was filed a compliant against by someone unknown to HR for taking a post-lunch nap using either of the three above approaches. The intern was never reached formally for that matter any way.

If taking a nap is frowned upon or might risk being reported to HR by coworkers or managers,

  • is closing eyes for 10 to 15 mins while sitting in one's own seat okay?

  • how, where and when would you suggest to take a rest, without taking in caffeine and other unhealthy substances, if really feeling sleepy?

  • How would you reduce the chance and time of feeling sleepy in office, without taking unhealthy substances?


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    Why are you asking us instead of consulting your management and your company's HR? Explain to me by what logic do you think we know more about your company's policies than they do? Voting to close because the answer to your question is company-policy specific. Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 3:51
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    @Vietnhi I don't have a company to ask. There are always exceptions. But I am asking about consensus or general/most cases.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 3:53
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    No consensus; case by case. Sorry...
    – keshlam
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 3:57
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    @Vietnhi Do I need to be employed to ask the questions? By hypothetical, do you mean the scenario never happens in reality?
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 4:00
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    @Vietnh I don't think it is a good idea for me to ask the particular questions to specific companies which I might or might not work for.
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 4:09

3 Answers 3


So, being a little pedantic, the answer to your question is "no". I say that because you asked "generally speaking...". I answer "no" because there is no general cultural rule to draw from to answer your question. Some companies are perfectly fine with this, others are not. This is much like saying, "what's the dress code?" or "what's the software language a company uses" without knowing what company you're talking about.

I have seen many companies that are OK with napping, many others which are not. Some even set up nap rooms to encourage the behavior, others do not. Some allow it by policy, but then the peer culture is such that you're not tolerated by your coworkers if you take advantage of that corporate leniency.

Sometimes it's really counter to what you might expect from other cultural norms. I've seen companies that have a strict dress code and hours of business that are more lax on sleeping at your desk than others which let folks come and go as they please and wear whatever they want.


I want to add a little more because my comment in another answer was edging out of comment territory and into answer territory.

I will argue that it's actually not just company specific, but also can depend on your role in the company (hourly, salaried, billable salaried, etc) and the kind of company it is (I know you said 'software', but there's a difference in approaches for, e.g. a game dev company, a small mobile startup, a corporate internal dev team for a non-software company, etc).

If you're being paid by the hour, or if your time is billable, then no you cannot nap while "on the clock". That said, I'm currently in a company where the developers are all salaried, but we log time worked against each project we're working on, and so if I decide to nap (or go for a workout or whatever) during the day, I'm simply not going to mark that time against a project.

Similarly, if you're pure salary, in my experience it's a rare salaried employee who only works 40 hours a week, unless your time is billable (see above) you generally don't clock in and out. In many cases you have the flexibility to work weird hours or from home, etc, and so there's even less of an issue for taking breaks during the day, etc, because you're being paid for delivering someting on time and to standard, how you get there is up to you.

As for the "kind" of company, it's related to the above, but also I find that the closer you are to green field or pure "design" work, the more understanding there is for the need to take breaks, let the creative juices recharge, talk about stuff over coffee to let your subconscious have a shot etc. If you're in pure bugfix mode, the perception (not necessarily the reality) is often that you're more likely able to just grind through it and get it done.


Generally speaking, taking a nap on the clock is frowned upon and basically fraud. If you bill someone for time worked, you should actually work.

What you do off the clock, in your break or before or after work is up to you. Just make sure that everybody knows you are off the clock, or people will suspect you are doing this on the clock.

If you are allowed to take your private, non-billable nap on company premises is a company-specific question. You will need to ask the specific company.

  • Thanks. I am a little confused about the reasoning behind. Since you bill someone for time worked, is having lunch, gossiping non-related stuffs, playing cell phones, or browsing work-unrelated webpages on the clock frowned upon and fraud? These kinds of things happen all the time in workplace. If I choose to finish my lunch more quickly, browse less work-unrelated websites, play less with my cell phone, or participate less or not at all in work-unrelated gossip, can I use the spared time to take a quick nap, just for getting better when back to work?
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 7:55
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    @Tim Yes, all of those things are fraud as well with the exception of lunch--you have to clock out in most workplaces for lunch, and in salaried positions you don't bill your company for your lunch hour, working, say, from 9 to 5:30 instead of 9 to 5. Some companies are more tolerant toward fraud than others, of course--you would instantly be fired for doing any of those above things at Costco; but there may be an allowance for a software developer. Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 8:15
  • Is the company paying for time or for deliverables? Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 8:50
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    @Tim You are right, technically, they are all fraud. Well, legally it's probably a different term, but you know what I mean. But it is ignored for a whole lot of reasons. If it takes 4 minutes for the tests to run, I'll surf the net, because there is nothing else I could productively do in that time. It's also basically invisible. In an 8 hour day, I need food and drink. But you can come to work with enough energy for 8 hours straight. And sleeping for 30 minutes is nothing that could not be replaced by being productive instead.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 8:56
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    This is all again company dependent. It also only makes sense generically if you're being paid an hourly wage and you actually are "on the clock" in some manner when you nap. If you're not billing for time worked (e.g. you're a salaried employee, who isn't accountable for what time they arrive and leave but instead is accountable for what they deliver) it doesn't make sense to argue that they're defrauding the company for a 30 minute nap. I also disagree that it's an even swap between taking a break (nap or not) and just "being productive". Creative efforts often need downtime.
    – Paul
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 15:41

Is closing eyes for 10 to 15 mins while sitting in one's own seat okay? How, where and when would you suggest to take a rest, without taking in caffeine and other unhealthy substances, if really feeling sleepy. How would you reduce the chance and time of feeling sleepy in office, without taking unhealthy substances?

Answer #1) It depends upon the office. In my engineering office, you'd be ratted out almost immediately.

Answer #2) Again, in a rigid office like mine: Take leave. Break room. As your leave balance allows.

Answer #3) Get enough rest at home. Switch to a new job that's more engaging. Listen to energetic music that you like.

If you suspect you might have a medical issue, see a doctor.

  • Thanks. Wht are break room, and leave balance?
    – Tim
    Commented Jan 14, 2017 at 19:54
  • @Tim A place to eat or read or whatever on your break time. How much leave you have left for the year. Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 13:27

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