Are your employees getting enough sleep?
You might think staying up late here and there isn’t a big deal, but research shows it doesn’t take much for sleep deprivation to adversely affect your work performance or even your health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insufficient sleep can be a cause of car collisions, industrial accidents, as well as medical and other occupational errors. Furthermore, not getting enough sleep can elevate an employee’s risk of chronic diseases like depression, obesity, and cancer.
This not only has devastating consequences for the individuals involved, but it can also considerably impact their employer. The diminished productivity that results from employees getting inadequate sleep costs organizations billions of dollars, not to mention the costs associated with workplace accidents. More compellingly, it’s been proven that getting sufficient sleep can reduce stress and depression, improve memory function, increase energy, and control body weight. While it’s impossible for you to ensure every one of your employees gets the recommended amount of rest each night, there are some measures you can take to increase the likelihood of them enjoying good quality sleep.
- Avoid constantly asking employees to stay late. Before you have an employee stick around past quitting time yet again, ask yourself if the task is truly life-or-death. Chances are it’s not, and the task can wait. Expecting employees to stay at work outside regular hours constantly derails their entire evening, which means they have less time for dinner, family, and other responsibilities, which most likely just eats into their sleep time. If that happens all the time, that’s where the problems with sleep deprivation can come in.
- Try to refrain from contacting employees outside work hours. Calling staff when they’re not at work should be limited to serious emergencies only. Workers in France recently turned this into law, establishing the right for employees to turn off all work-related communications when they’re not on the job. The decision was spurred by an increase in sleeplessness, burnout, and even relationship troubles among employees who felt pressured to answer their phones unfailingly.
- Encourage employees to exercise. Remind your staff to go for walks and stretch regularly. Just ten minutes of cardio can help them sleep better, and may also stave off disorders like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome.
- Provide alternatives to coffee. Experts recommend not drinking coffee after around 12-1 pm. Even though it seems like a long way from bedtime, caffeine can affect sleep quality for several hours after it’s consumed. Turn off the coffee maker post lunch and instead offer juice, sparkling water, or other refreshing beverages that don’t contain caffeine.
- Invite natural light into your workspace. Our bodies rely on sunlight for a number of functions, including vitamin absorption and regulation of the circadian rhythm. In addition, sunlight is highly effective at boosting mood and energy, which in turn can reduce stress and improve sleep.
- Allow employees to take breaks whenever they need. Many organizations think they’re doing their part by giving employees regulated breaks, but a better solution is to grant employees the freedom to take breaks at their own discretion, if the work activity involved allows for it. This approach respects the fact that everyone gets energized in different ways. For instance, while one employee would prefer one long break in the afternoon, another might be more productive with several shorter breaks throughout the day. Instead of prescribing what you think is best, let them decide how and when they re-energize.
One more thing you can do to help your employees sleep better
The mere act of thinking about sleep can be stressful for many people. Most of us go to bed later than we should and wake up before our bodies are ready, repeating this for weeks, months, or even years. As an employer, you can step in by providing your staff with the helpful resources on sleep contained within the LifeSpeak digital library. We have expert-led videos, podcasts, and tip sheets that will walk your employees through different strategies they can use to fall asleep faster, enjoy more restful sleep, and wake up feeling refreshed. Among other topics, our library also features valuable advice on managing stress and improving nutrition, both of which are connected to proper sleep. For more information on how your staff can use LifeSpeak to live healthier and more productive lives, simply book a demo with us today.
Also published on Medium.