Sleep On It! — How Sleep Impacts Employee Productivity

How many hours did you get last night?

We know the big picture message; we are sleep deprived, and our happiness and productivity are paying the price. We may hope that reaching for another coffee will help us power through, but we are only left short-tempered and irritable. As sleepless nights turn into unproductive days, the workload you could easily handle under normal circumstances turns into a load of workplace stress. Before you know it, this stress becomes one of the demons that keeps you up at night.

It’s a vicious cycle. Low levels of sleep not only affect your productivity, but also affect your focus, behaviour, job satisfaction and level of innovation. If employers want to improve the health of their employees (and in turn, their fiscal bottom line) helping everyone achieve their 7–9 hours of rest each night can be crucial. Short of instigating a company-wide nap time, here are three ways employees and employers alike can ensure a good night’s sleep.

  1. Encourage employees to keep the office out of the bedroom

You may not be ready to ban evening emails, but company leaders can take the initiative to promote the need for sleep. When a culture of wellness is seamlessly integrated and supported, employees know that their wellbeing is valued.

Studies show that exposure to the type of light emitted by cellphones and computers impact how quickly you fall asleep, so try shutting down your devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime. Use the time to enjoy a warm bath, practice deep breathing exercises, or curl up with a good book.

2. Provide non-caffeinated options

Deadlines and crunch times are a part of working life. Ensuring that employees have access to non-caffeinated beverages can help everyone stay refreshed and hydrated without becoming “wired and tired”.

Most people metabolize caffeine fully within 5 hours, but it may take up to a day to eliminate it entirely from your body. Try to curb your caffeine intake in the late afternoon and consume water, herbal teas or even decaf coffee in the evening to stop your nighttime tossing and turning.

3. Incorporate sleep into your existing wellness program or incentives

Providing employees with a company-wide sleep campaign will educate everyone on optimal sleep practices, and offer strategies for getting not just the quantity, but the quality of sleep required each night.

A four-week campaign can focus on improving sleep health by providing proven exercises known to promote better sleep and good sleep hygiene practices. Employees can learn about how diet and exercise impact sleep, and have a forum for tracking their sleep and discovering the techniques that work best for them.

The National Sleep Foundation reports that more than half of the working population experiences one or more symptom of insomnia at least a few nights per week — that’s huge! Recent data also shows that the annual employer costs for sleep related problems tops $60 billion — $16 billion in health care expenses and $50 billion in lost productivity. The importance of a good night’s sleep is news not to be taken lying down.

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