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Workplace Accommodations?


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#1 LauraL

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 02:13 PM

Can you please share what's worked for you from a "reasonable accommodation" standpoint in the workplace? Specifically, if you take naps at work, do you have a set schedule, or just take as needed?

I work for a large government agency. There is an office assigned to process reasonable accommodation requests for staff, and I've been talking to them. They do have a room with a couch that I can use for napping (but only after all of the paperwork is approved), and they'll reserve it for me for an hour per day, but it has to be the same hour every day--not at 11am one day and 2pm the next. I'm still getting used to having treated narcolepsy--diagnosed and on nuvigil for about three weeks now--but it seems to me that a scheduled nap won't work as well as resting when I actually hit the point of being excessively tired. Any thoughts on that?

My manager and my boss are both very understanding, and are fine with me napping as needed, it's just the reasonable accommodation office that is being really rigid. I wish I had an office with a door that I could just close whenever I needed a few minutes' rest, but I work in a cubicle. There have been a couple of times lately that I've just been so sleepy that I laid down on a yoga mat on the floor of my cubicle for 20 minutes or so. It's comfortable enough, but I just feel awkward about it--what if a coworker comes by to ask a question? How do they react to me curled up on the floor?

If there are other accommodations that have helped, I'm definitely interested to hear.

#2 Asleeper

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 11:53 PM

I had always found that a scheduled nap worked well. Usually the second half of my lunch. That nap can keep you from feeling excessively sleepy later on. When I worked in a factory, I would sleep on the cement floor on a piece of cardboard. It felt great. Unfortunatly I work in a small retail shop and there are too few of us so I can't hide from the customers if we get busy during lunch.

#3 Contemplative

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Posted 05 May 2012 - 08:21 PM

Can you please share what's worked for you from a "reasonable accommodation" standpoint in the workplace? Specifically, if you take naps at work, do you have a set schedule, or just take as needed?

I work for a large government agency. There is an office assigned to process reasonable accommodation requests for staff, and I've been talking to them. They do have a room with a couch that I can use for napping (but only after all of the paperwork is approved), and they'll reserve it for me for an hour per day, but it has to be the same hour every day--not at 11am one day and 2pm the next. I'm still getting used to having treated narcolepsy--diagnosed and on nuvigil for about three weeks now--but it seems to me that a scheduled nap won't work as well as resting when I actually hit the point of being excessively tired. Any thoughts on that?

My manager and my boss are both very understanding, and are fine with me napping as needed, it's just the reasonable accommodation office that is being really rigid. I wish I had an office with a door that I could just close whenever I needed a few minutes' rest, but I work in a cubicle. There have been a couple of times lately that I've just been so sleepy that I laid down on a yoga mat on the floor of my cubicle for 20 minutes or so. It's comfortable enough, but I just feel awkward about it--what if a coworker comes by to ask a question? How do they react to me curled up on the floor?

If there are other accommodations that have helped, I'm definitely interested to hear.



Currently dealing with a similar issue, and I, too, after trying to fight off sleep, uselessly, realize that scheduled naps and preventing myself from getting overly exhausted are of some benefit AND at the same time, they occur very suddenly and without notice, unbearably, whereas I have gone to the yoga room and layed down on the floor several times. Fortunately, and not to make too much light of the situation, I work at a Pilates Studio where these are easily accessible to me. Point being 1. Scheduled nap time accomodations are useful and 2. Education of coworkers and management about the unpredictability inherent tto Narcolepsy may go a long way. Your situation where your direct boss, etc are understanding but the accommodations dept is not reminds me of the ambient room temperature of a building being "centrally controlled" from corporate headquarters which might be located in a different country. Perhaps some education and an in person visit with a support person (both as a friend and a witness) might facilitate some more leniency. That's the approach I'm currently undertaking.


I keep trying to place myself in my coworker's and bosses shoes, or in the case of the pilates studio - more appropriately - toesox and understand how foreign this all sounds and how the situation may impact them. In turn, I hopefully will garner some openness to communication. This may sound like a ridiculous suggestion/accommodation, but can you get standing folding doors/blinds for your cubicle? The cost is under $100 and may make your reprieve to rest more comfortable without causing any structural infringement or major outlay on anyones part. Just an idea. I'll keep you posted of any other suggestions I might encounter.


All the best.

-Contemplative

#4 sleepywriter

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 01:33 PM

The accommodations you request depend on your symptoms and their cycle. For instance, some people with narcolepsy do fine working a standard 8am-5pm schedule with a nap during lunch. Others work with their employers to start work at a later time if possible. Since it is a government agency, I'm thinking you probably can't do much about the time your arrive and time you leave. For naps, the accommodations office probably needs to reserve the room at the same time in order to provide consistent availability for you and for others needing that room. It's also good for your body to try to stick to the same schedule each day as much as you can. It also might be necessary to take two naps instead of just one. Have you kept a sleep diary to see if there are times when your EDS is especially bad?

I'm having problems taking naps at work. Reserving a room at the same time is difficult where I work because there are soooo many meetings going on. I finally got a little camping mat and have started to use our server room (I'm a network admin, so I have access). It's helpful to have a place that is available, but man, the equipment is loud. Sometimes I fall asleep, sometimes I don't. But if I try another room that isn't so noisy, I still have issues because I still feel guilty about napping at work. I know I have to in order to function properly, but every single noise wakes me up and makes me worry about how others will react. I doubt they'd care since most of my co-workers know I have narcolepsy, but it doesn't make it any easier since our culture is so focused on productivity.

#5 LauraL

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 12:05 AM

Thanks so much, everyone, for your feedback and suggestions. Napping before getting overly tired makes a lot of sense--I've started napping at lunchtime, and I can tell it's helping. I haven't tried a sleep journal, but I like that idea, and will do it! Thanks for the suggestion, sleepywriter. And Contemplative, your idea of folding doors is brilliant! I looked online, and found a folding privacy screen made of cardboard that is less than $40. I think as I start, I'll go ahead and order that while I'm getting things worked out with the HR office (let's just hope the fire marshal doesn't decide it's a safety issue--they're pretty strict).

Actually, unless I have the odd early meeting, I generally go into the office at about 9am. My commute is less than 30 minutes, so I rarely have to leave home before 8:30am. I've never been a morning person--even before narcolepsy--so I'm glad there's a little flexibility there. I have told the coworkers I work most with, and those that sit near me, about the narcolepsy. Before, anytime I'd nap on the floor, someone would see me and come check to see if I was alright. Which was sweet, but didn't help me sleep!

I see my neurologist tomorrow. A letter from her is required for "reasonable accommodation" at work, so I'll talk to her about what she thinks would work. I can understand why they would need to have a strict schedule for the nap room--as you say, for other employees--but I haven't really figured out how often/how many naps I need, so a strict schedule may not work.

Sleepywriter, the noise in the server room sounds annoying! I actually took a sleep mask and earplugs to work today, and that combined with a little travel pillow I have made for a really comfortable little rest. The earplugs probably wouldn't block out all the server noise, but maybe it'll help? (It was great to drown out of the sound of my coworkers tapping on their keyboards!)

And Contemplative--loved the "walk a mile in their toesox." :) I really want to get back to yoga--I have a feeling that'll help me manage my new condition. Anyway, thanks again everyone! I'll keep you posted!