Reading all the latest news on blood pressure might make you want to go lie down, which may in fact be a good thing. Doctors and scientists have been saying for years that afternoon naps are good for you. Research by Dr. Manolis Kallistratos, recently covered on TreeHugger, showed that taking an afternoon nap can reduce blood pressure and the risk of heart attack. He’s a cardiologist at Asklepieion Voula General Hospital in Athens, Greece, a country where many offices close to permit afternoon naps, or siestas. He noted that not as many people are having siestas these days, as offices and schedules get globalized and follow international standards.

Μidday sleep is a habit that nowadays is almost a privilege due to a nine-to-five working culture and intense daily routine. However the real question regarding this habit is: is it only a custom or is it also beneficial?

In fact, many companies are questioning that nine-to-five culture and are promoting napping, even providing spaces for it. Starre Vartan has written previously about how more companies are supporting nap time for their workers, but that means they also have to support nap space, a place of peace and quiet.

Google podsLegs sticking out of eggs (Photo: Metronap)

Starre shows the Metronap pod that's used by Google, where your legs are hanging out for all to see, which is probably inappropriate for many places. Fortunately, more architects and designers are coming up with ideas to accommodate the pod people, so to speak.

Pod time pod.You're getting sleepy ... (Photo: PodTime)

Over on High50, Gillian Rowe shows the sleeping pods from PodTime — the same ones seen on TreeHugger when they were used during the Olympics so that employees wouldn’t have to fight their way home through all the traffic. These are full beds modeled after Japanese capsule hotels, but some might find them claustrophobic. Now the pods are used by “larger organizations that are engaged in fostering a culture of health and well-being at work.”

Early adopters include GlaxoSmithKline, Nestlé and Nike. Another client, Roche, leased a pod for its well-being week and had such good feedback from staff that it decided to buy and install a pod as a permanent fixture.

Sleeping PodThis one is like a dorm room that has everything. (Photo: Mehrdad Yazdani)

There are bigger pods like this one by Mehrdad Yazdani of CannonDesign, which at 7-feet by 7-feet by 7-feet takes up a lot more space than the stackable PodTime unit. It was designed as a very small dorm room but could be adapted for office use. Besides just napping, Yazdani explains to Fast Company why people might want to sleep at the office:

As an entrepreneur, your ideas may come to you at 3 a.m. in the morning. You want to be able to roll out of the bed, grab your partners, and develop the idea.

Studio NLTired? Just climb under your desk, you'll be fine. (Photo: Athanasia Leivaditou)

Then there's Athanasia Leivaditou's desk with a hideaway bed underneath. It would work for naps, but she designed it for pulling all-nighters, noting depressingly:

In the competitive environments of the new Metropolis, work almost defines the purpose of existence. Physical, psychological and intellectual isolation has become a common phenomenon in the megacities. Our lives are shrinking in order to fit the confined space of our office: 1.6 SM [square meters]

Office sleeperThis one has everything. (Photo: Steven M. Johnson)

However my favorite remains the vision of cartoonist and futurist Steven M. Johnson, who designed the Office Sleeper back in 1991. He noted then that we would all be overworked and never leave the office.

Distinctions between work and home life blur as corporations adopt round-the-clock shifts to keep up with global competition. In many industries, workers were asked to sleep inside soundproof spaces under desks or in office sleepers that have a bed, change room sink, toilet and closet.

When you get right down to it, there are really two things companies could be doing when they provide nap space: they could be helping you — reducing your blood pressure and risk of a heart attack with a place to nap — or they could be killing you with overwork and chaining you to your desk. Take your pick.

Lloyd Alter ( @lloydalter ) writes about smart (and dumb) tech with a side of design and a dash of boomer angst.