A Company Guide to Sleep Health
Sleep is a core component of our health and wellbeing and its impact on an organisation should not be overlooked. Poor sleep health can have a negative impact on businesses at an operational level. From absenteeism caused by related mental and physical illnesses to decreased levels of productivity, there is no denying that problems with sleep among employees affects the workplace. In this guide, we will highlight what sleep health is, how it impacts the workplace and how organisations can strive to improve it.
What Is Sleep Health?
Sleep is an essential part of our health and wellbeing. In fact, it is just as essential as nutrition and exercise. Unfortunately, many of us simply aren’t getting enough sleep to maintain optimum cognitive function. Approximately 1 in 3 people are surviving on 6 hours or less. Most of us accept this as normal, however, consistently sleeping for less than the recommended hours can affect our wellbeing in several different ways. Sleep health also refers to the quality of sleep we get, whether it’s restful enough, if it was interrupted and what our bedtime routine is like.
A healthy sleep pattern means:
- You get an appropriate amount of sleep
- You sleep throughout the night
- You fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed
- You feel energised when you awake
There are many factors that can influence our quality of sleep. We have an internal body clock that regulates our energy levels and tells us when our body is ready to sleep, but this can be impacted by our nutritional intake, our stress levels, our physical activity and external factors like screen time, noise pollution and so on.
Sleep Health Impact in the Workplace
Billions of Euro are lost in companies worldwide as a result of insomnia and other sleep difficulties. It’s been noted in recent studies that employers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact poor sleep health has among workers in their organisations. Lack of sleep or poor sleep quality negatively impacts employee performance.
Millions of productive days are lost in organisations due to the impact poor sleep health has on productivity levels, and it’s a direct influence on absenteeism. Poor sleep health also indirectly effects the workplace, as chronic sleep issues can cause mental and physical health difficulties that result in absences and decreased levels of productivity and engagement. In a culture where being “busy” and overworked is worn as a badge of honour, sleep has become somewhat devalued in western society with disregard for how exactly it can impact our performance at work, and in other aspects of our lives.
Productivity & Creativity
Lack of sleep impacts efficiency, productivity and more mistakes, according to a Harvard report. There has also been ample research that indicates that REM sleep is beneficial to the creative process, helping us to think outside the box. This stage of sleep is also essential for aiding problem solving. With this in mind, it’s clear to see that under-sleeping employees are not performing to the best of their abilities, which ultimately results in under performance at a business level.
Perhaps most concerning is the impact poor sleep health has on workplace safety. The same Harvard report says that between 50,000 and 100,000 deaths occur per year as a result of workers of all professions not getting enough sleep.
It is also noted that more than a million workplace injuries occur due to sleep deprivation. The study noted that some of the deadliest accidents in recent times, including the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, were caused by sleep deprivation in workers.
Company Sleep Health In Numbers
Organisations & Sleep Health - How to Offer Help
Sleep is as crucial to performance and productivity as it is to physical as well as mental health. However, as a non– work activity that is heavily influenced by physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, organisations must find innovative ways to improve the sleep health of their employees.
Sleep Health & Wellbeing
Including sleep health as part of a workplace wellbeing programme is one such way. As a practical solution for organisations to help employees understand and manage their own sleep health, a wellbeing programme can help with:
- Personal or work-related problems.
- Social, emotional and physical stress.
- Sleep deprivation.
- Sleep disorders.
- Maintaining a work-life balance.
A workplace wellbeing programme can also provide a dynamic platform and marketplace to share best–practice expertise on the subject of sleep health. Through seminars, webinars and articles written by experts, employees can access knowledge and information in a variety of different digital and onsite formats to suit their particular working practices.
In addition to the latest approaches, technology and wellness initiatives, employees can also seek advice from sleep health experts who can offer evidence –based sleep training, workshops and private consultations. These qualified and experienced professionals can also help HR managers within an organisation to:
- Identify any company policies or behaviours that may be seen as a threat to sleep health.
- Implement a stand–alone sleep management programme.
- Address sleep as part of an overall health and wellbeing strategy.
In recognition of the impact that aspects of physical and mental wellbeing have on our sleep health, organisations can also use a workplace wellbeing programme to help employees understand sleep within a wider context. Sleep is important for our physical, social, intellectual and emotional wellbeing. So too is its co–dependent relationship with nutrition and fitness. That’s why it’s important that employees have access to a workplace wellbeing programme that offers a whole wellness approach.
- 32,000,000 People In the UK have anti-social working patterns
- 25-30% higher risk of injury than working day shifts
Organisations & Sleep Health - More Ways to Help
A company culture that supports the work–life balance can help employees make small but incremental changes to improve sleep. Organisations can support employees in adopting workplace habits such as:
- Taking regular breaks from screens
- Learning to handle stress
- Practicing meditation techniques
- Monitoring individual workloads
- In the age of connectivity, organisations can also help their employees protect their downtime, by allowing them to switch off from any social and productive requirements placed on them.
Organisations can support employees adopting leisure habits such as:
- Cutting back on alcohol and caffeine
- Switching off the mobile phone and that ‘always on’ blue light
- Going to bed earlier and at the same time every night
Long Term Control
The complexities of sleep can’t be understood overnight. However, with a long–term commitment to a workplace wellbeing programme, organisations can take clear and practical steps towards improving the sleep health of their employees. Having a workplace wellbeing programme that is rich in content and highly accessible will not only give employees the education and support they need to actively take responsibility for their own sleep health, but the motivation to make the behavioural changes necessary to reap the long–term rewards of improved sleep.
Percentage of workers who say their job allows them to get enough sleep:
- SHIFT WORK – 63%
- NON SHIFT WORK – 89%
Do you want to put sleep health on the agenda of your workplace wellbeing programme? Talk to a wellness advisor about how we can help!