Why Should Companies Promote Good Sleep Hygiene In Employees?

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Why Should Companies Promote Good Sleep Hygiene In Employees?

America is a sleep-deprived nation, with 35% of adults getting less than the recommended seven hours of sleep per night. Poor sleep quality is linked to a higher risk of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and stress, but it can also affect work performance. As such, an important part of ensuring employee health and well-being should center on sleep. Programs should be adopted which stress the importance of good sleep quantity and quality since deprivation can get in the way of achieving key company goals.

What Is The Effect Of Deprivation On Employee Health, Wellness And Productivity?

If you work in an industry in which employees are required to exercise perception, memory and executive functions, deprived members of your team could very well perform at lower levels than they would if they enjoyed at least seven hours of quality sleep. As stated in research by William Killgore at the University of Arizona, “creative, divergent, and innovative aspects of cognition appear to be degraded by lack of sleep,” as do high-level cognitive capacities. There are various reasons for this, including the scale of decline in alertness and attention. Deprivation can also affect mood, thereby diminishing good communication between employees.

Even Minor Sleep Loss Can Have A Big Impact

2019 study by researchers at the University of Florida found that sleeping for a few minutes less than usual can “dramatically” affect an employee’s work performance the next day. In the study, participants who reduced their nightly sleep by this amount reported more cognitive issues when they awoke. This caused their cortisol levels to rise and resulted in earlier waking owing to fatigue. The effect of deprivation, stated the researchers, is cyclical: it does not simply affect an employee on a given day, but can also potentially affect sleep for several days. The researchers recommended that workplaces need to make greater efforts to promote good sleep in employees.

The Effects Of Deprivation On Shift Workers

The World Health Organization has classified night shift work as a possible carcinogen, due to a disruption in the body’s natural circadian rhythms. In a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers found that women who worked rotating night shifts for five years or longer had an increased risk of mortality and cardiovascular disease-related mortality, and those doing the same for 15 years or more also had a modest increase in the risk of lung cancer mortality.

Companies who impose this type of shift should speak to specialists, who may recommend educating employees about the benefits of regular napping. One new habit recommended by some experts, for instance, is the polyphasic sleep schedule. It involves resting for four to six hours throughout a 24-hour period. This schedule can possibly increase the amount of time spent in REM and slow-wave sleep, so it may be useful for employees who work in fractioned shifts.

Sleep Hygiene Programs At Work

As a whole, programs that educate employees on the nature and importance of good sleep quantity and quality should be established at workplaces. For instance, those who are in bed for eight hours a day may think that is sufficient. However, if they are waking up frequently, taking longer to fall asleep, or tossing and turning at night because of stress, the chances are, their sleep quality is being hampered and they are not making their way through the restorative deep stage.

Managers should also be trained to watch out for the signs of fatigue. Employees who are battling insomnia and other problems should be referred to a sleep specialist to obtain due diagnosis and treatment for conditions like sleep apnea, which can severely hamper an employee’s health and well-being.

The Role Of Technology

Managers in charge of corporate wellness can also invest in key technology that workers can use to track aspects like breathing, stress, and sleep. Many modern fitness trackers, for instance, contain monitors that provide vital information about the sleep quality. Through data obtained, such as heart rate and movement, the trackers can measure it with relatively good accuracy. Employees who receive poor readings can then be considered for referral to a specialist.

Some companies go as far as providing napping rooms, which employees can avail of at break time. Doing so is just one of many initiatives companies that take sleep quality seriously should consider offering. Often, deprivation can be fixed by simply adopting a sound routine and embracing stress-busting activities such as yoga and meditation in the daytime, so that sleeping becomes the truly restful activity it’s meant to be.

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