In the Know

5 Reasons to Ensure Your Employees Get Enough Sleep

11.08.2017 St. Joseph Hoag Health

Daylight Savings Time just ended on Sunday, November 5th. Hopefully, you took advantage of the clocks going back and enjoyed an extra hour of sleep. Or did you just get up an hour earlier?

Studies show about 40% of Americans get less than seven hours sleep per night. But the National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours’ sleep per night for working adults, age 18-64.

Clearly, we have a problem.

Sleep deprivation poses a serious health threat. It exacerbates the risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, stroke, depression, and other mental and physical ailments.

Short of these serious health problems, sleep deprivation can be a major problem in the workplace—with negative impacts on employee performance, safety, and well-being.

Here are five reasons to make sure your employees get sufficient sleep:

  1. Safety. Someone who has missed just one night’s sleep is as cognitively impaired as a legally intoxicated individual. Chronic fatigue is often a factor in major workplace disasters—like Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Exxon Valdez. But even short of such extreme tragedies, studies show that sleep deprivation affects our ability to assess situations appropriately and make sound judgments. This can lead to accidents and injuries on the job—including repeated work accidents and more sick days per accident.

And while all of us would benefit from getting enough sleep, workers who drive, operate machinery, or make life-or-death decisions—for instance, doctors, nurses, and first responders—simply must get a sufficient quantity of good quality sleep.

  1. Productivity. Sleep plays a critical role in thinking and learning. Studies show sleepiness causes cognitive impairments such as:
    • Memory problems;
    • Inability to stay alert;
    • Falling asleep in meetings;
    • Difficulty in concentrating, reasoning, learning new information, processing complex data, solving problems, and making good decisions.

These are critical skills in today’s workplace, and it’s important for employees to get adequate sleep so they can perform these critical functions on the job.

  1. Workplace Cohesion. Lack of sleep causes people to be more impulsive, irritable, and depressed. This interferes with employee engagement and motivation. Plus, it undermines teamwork, social interactions, and employees’ people-management skills. In today’s fast-paced, dynamic economy, teams need to be completely in sync and “firing on all cylinders.” Which means everyone should be well rested, healthy, and focused.
  1. Work/Life Balance—Our 24/7, global, always-on-economy blurs the line between work and home. It extends working hours, erodes downtime, and disrupts normal wake/sleep patterns. As the pace of competition, technological innovation, and wholesale computerization continues apace, smart employers will protect their most important asset—their employees—by helping them impose discipline and balance on their schedule. This includes getting adequate sleep.
  1. Health and Well-being—Sleep deprivation can pose a serious health risk if it becomes a long-term habit or way of life. Employers can help their workers by encouraging them to get evaluated medically, to see if their sleep deprivation has an underlying medical cause. Employers can also teach their employees about proper sleep management and, if necessary, help them find a board-certified sleep specialist to recommend treatment.

There are many causes of sleep deprivation in the workforce. Some employees may view sleep as wasted time—especially type-A individuals in high-pressure, competitive industries, or young folks trying to make their mark. Others may unintentionally get insufficient sleep because of shift work, family obligations, or heavy workloads.

Whatever the cause, sleep deprivation is bad for your employees and bad for your business. For the sake of your workforce and the long-term viability of your organization, make sure your employees get enough sleep.

Learn more about the causes of sleep deprivation and the do’s and don’ts of a good night’s sleep.

To learn more about St. Joseph Hoag Health’s sleep centers, please contact us at foremployers@stjoe.org.

Categories: Wellness