By Jackie Farwell

The Associated Press

If you feel like you're dragging at work, try grabbing a pillow instead of a gulping down a latte. Catching some Z's at the office might seem like the worst thing to do when you're behind, but napping can actually improve worker productivity, according to sleep scientist Sara C. Mednick, a professor at University of California, San Diego and author of "Take a Nap! Change Your Life."

That daily 20-minute run to the coffee house would be better spent either catching up on missed sleep or supplementing the eight hours you got the night before. Research shows performance on memory tasks improves more following a nap than after a dose of caffeine, which provides only a short-term buzz, Mednick said.

"Most people are not sleeping well," she said. "The average is about 6.7 hours a night."

Well-rested employees get along better with co-workers and feel more energized at the end of the day, plus sleep better at night, Mednick said.

But don't count too many sheep while you're on the clock. After about half an hour you'll fall into a deep sleep that will leave you groggy - and your boss grumpy - when you wake up.

Managerial mistakes

You finally landed a coveted leadership position, the job that's sure to earn your colleagues' respect and send your career skyrocketing. Now just don't blow it.

Many new managers make the same mistakes, assuming that their past work habits will continue to make them successful in a new position, according to Michael Watkins, a former Harvard Business School professor and author of "The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders At All Levels."

A common faux pas is failing to understand and adapt to your boss' communication style, which can lead to misunderstandings about expectations and work timeframes, Watkins said.

Then there's your new employees, complete with strong performers, bad eggs and built-in office politics. Don't saddle yourself expecting to lead a historically unproductive bunch to high-performing glory, Watkins said.

"It's just so crippling to have a couple of toxic people," he said. "One of the hardest things managers do is manage people out because it affects people's lives in a really deep way."

How you manage your team will be an early barometer of your performance in that well-earned new position.

"You're being tested every day," Watkins said.


Turns out "King Lear" is good for the space between your ears. Reading Shakespeare, from "As You Like It" to "Macbeth," can boost mental fitness, according to a 2006 study of 20 adults published in a literary journal and referenced in the March 2007 Consumer Reports onHealth.

Test subjects' brains functioned at higher levels while poring over the Bard's elaborate syntax than while reading more conventional works, British researchers found.

Though the study could be much ado about nothing - fairly small and proving no direct link between reading Shakespeare and any specific benefits - why not dust off that old copy of "Hamlet" or a "Midsummer Night's Dream"? You'll be a hit at parties.

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