updated 1/31/2007 5:57:25 PM ET 2007-01-31T22:57:25

The French already enjoy a 35-hour work week and generous vacation. Now the health minister wants to look into whether workers should be allowed to sleep on the job.

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France launched plans this week to spend $9 million this year to improve public awareness about sleeping troubles. About one in three French people suffer from them, the ministry says.

Fifty-six percent of French complain that a poor night’s sleep has affected their job performance, according to the ministry.

“Why not a nap at work? It can’t be a taboo subject,” Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said Monday. He called for further studies and said he would promote on-the-job naps if they prove useful.

Stages of sleepFrance’s state-run health insurance provider will send letters explaining the importance of good sleep. The Health Ministry’s Web site offers tips on how best to get a good night’s rest.

The ministry’s online “Passport to Sleep” recommends cutting down on coffee, tea, colas and athletic activity after 8 p.m., shunning TV time or working late in the evening, and listening better to the body’s own sleep signals, such as yawning.

Bertrand said sleepiness causes 20 percent to 30 percent of highway accidents across France each year.

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