Napping is a known activity worldwide but only some cultures practice routine napping. Germans and some Middle Eastern cultures nap in the afternoon daily. US does not follow any established rules and napping at work is definitely out of question. Most employee handbooks list sleeping on the job (or any like activity) as cause for dismissal. Corporate executive offices have included a couch for many years. This couch serves several purposes one of which is a short nap when needed.
Nap is not real sleep but the body takes care of many functions done during real sleep time. Napping may not be a complicated activity but has many characteristics. The most common nap is the afternoon nap usually after lunch. This nap is usually associated with eating a large meal. People who work difficult schedules often break their sleep time into nap and sleep combined. I know a restaurateur who has followed this for forty years. He sleeps at 1 or 2 am and wakes up around 5 am to visit his restaurant and check things. His afternoon naps begins at 2 pm and ends about 5 pm when he returns to work again. This schedule may seem unusual but is quite common in the business world. An executive works anywhere from 65 to 110 hours weekly. I have worked such schedules (in retail management) for extended periods of time and can tell you firsthand no allowance is made for easy sleep time. The late hours result in difficulty going to sleep which shortens the night time sleep time. When the person wakes up in the morning, the chances of being sleepy and having a poor night of sleep are high. A nice afternoon nap balances this equation. This is not universally accepted in the American work culture.
The American culture has always been in favor of continuous labor at all levels. One of the basic assumptions of the informal labor code of America is that all employees are inherently lazy and seek to avoid work in any possible way. The majority of American employers treat anything similar to sleep as such and react harshly. Napping may equals laziness in many contexts but is a good practice to maintain health and performance. American employer has a hard time understanding many things and what contributes to performance is one of them. A typical employer brain is incapable of processing a short nap as a prelude to better performance. The battle for napping at work has already been lost unless one is management and not subject to supervision.
Many famous people were regular nappers. Regan, JFK, Churchill, DaVinci and Salvador Dali are a few. Dali is famous for sleeping with a spoon in his hand. If he were to fall sleep during his nap, the spoon would drop into a pot making much noise thus waking him. Reagan slept regularly on the job and referred to all these periods as naps. JFK slept after lunch daily and was not to be disturbed. These are not the only individuals who understand the value of napping for good health. The world is run by people who understand superior performance requires good health, mental alertness and high level energy. Exercise, good diet and plenty of sleep maybe the obvious necessities. However, sleeps takes away 1/3 of our lifetimes thus the obvious problem area for a busy person. Naps and sleep times must be combined to allow superior performance for long periods of time in American business. American culture does not understand many things because of its recent history. Only 20 years ago, computers and Internet made our world a smaller place but a more realistic one. Arbitrary and arrogant work rules that have been in place for decades could finally be changed. The relationship between good health and job performance is not considered a management topic of importance. The closest corporate America has come to this idea is accepting the high cost of health care and all possible means to avoid the costs. Napping maybe a practice with a long history but a poor history in the American work culture. This keeps millions of people from reaching optimum performance daily. Maybe America ought to force workers to stretch and exercise on the job as the East Asian companies do and allow a nap period similar to standard break times to encourage maintaining a fresh and alert mind at work.