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It’s Not Just You: Survey Confirms Meetings are Putting People to Sleep

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Meetings (also known by their full name, “Meetings Ughhh”) are literally putting us to sleep.

One in three people reported falling asleep or feeling drowsy during a work meeting, according to the results of a survey the hotel company Hilton released Sept. 7. Productivity tends to drop around 2 p.m., says the report, based on a poll of 3,043 part- or full-time employees from the US, UK, and Germany.

If you’re alarmed at the high percentage of slumberers around office conference tables, you won’t want to hear about what goes on at conferences. Four in 10 Americans have succumbed to a snooze during a conference in the last year, the survey found.

It’s hard to be at the top of your game a conference. Good diets and regular exercise regimes are tough to maintain when long meetings often followed by an open-bar bacchanal and fatty, bury-me-on-cheese-island buffets.

Including sexy charts or adding a few puppies to your PowerPoint presentation may help keep people from drowsing, but really, unless your fellow conference attendees are living cleanly while away from home, you’re probably not going to keep them rapt. Hilton has a solution: the company says when it hosts conferences, it will offer healthier snacks and more exercise to meeting participants to keep them awake.

It’s challenging. Americans, for their part, are a tired lot to begin with. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine said in a 2010 study that 18% of 8,937 participants surveyed reported falling asleep or being drowsy in situations where they had to concentrate, such as in a meeting.

Just how productive conferences and meetings are is important to the hotels that host them. They earn big bucks from renting ballrooms, meeting spaces, and blocks of hotel rooms. Nightly rates globally are expected to grow at only a modest 2.5% this year, according to the Global Business Travel Association, so repeat customers are important, especially as they face new competition from lodging upstarts.

So it makes sense that the big hotel chains that host conferences, like Hilton, are making an effort to keep you living healthier at corporate events. My personal suggestion to conference organizers: more coffee.

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