How to Help Your Employees Sleep Better and Improve Their Mood
Sleep deprivation can greatly impact an organization’s productivity and safety, as well as the overall workforce environment. According to the CDC, only 65 percent of adults regularly report getting the recommended seven or more hours of sleep per night. Chronic insufficient sleep is estimated to cost the U.S. economy more than $410 billion annually due to absenteeism, lower presenteeism and reduced quality of work product.
Sleep and mood-altering factors have such an impact on the well-being of employees that results from the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, a five-year cooperative agreement that concluded in 2018, were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. It was found that employers can play a vital role in improving sleep habits and sleep hygiene by improving both the workplace environment and offering tools that employees can practice at both the office and at home. The study identified three major categories of sleep interventions: educational, health promotion behaviors such as physical activity, and workplace environmental modifications.
Interventions and strategies to promote sleep and improve mood can include:
- Napping at specific times before or after work - Increasing daytime activity levels by walking, taking the stairs or stretching at work - Changing lighting to promote alertness - Screening employees for sleep disorders and offering treatment options - Setting limits on the number of hours worked per 24 hours and per 7-day periods - Establishing 10-11 consecutive hours off from work per 24-hour period - Implementing fatigue risk management systems and shift work times - Providing a sleep education program for all employees - Promoting the use of short naps during work breaks - Establishing fatigue risk management systems - Permitting employees to listen to music to relax - Encouraging socialization and idle conversation as a way to relieve stress - Offering mediation, yoga, and breathing technique classes during breaks
The benefits for employers that offer wellness initiatives targeting sleep health are significant. There will be reduced costs due to worker error and workers’ compensation insurance, and there will be an increase in job retention. Employers of fatigue-sensitive employees such as those working in health care, emergency response, trucking and public transportation will realize the most benefit when sleep health is encouraged. Improving employee sleep and mood benefits the workplace, employees and, ultimately, overall productivity.
The topic of sleep-deprived employees has been making headlines and Wellness Workdays’ CEO, Debra Wein, was recently quoted in The Boston Globe in “Why good employers want you to put down the phone and get more sleep.” Debra stated that “Companies are realizing that sleep is a key issue for employee mood, productivity, memory, and engagement, especially as technology and greater demands make it harder to break away.” She noted that Wellness Workdays has seen a jump in requests for sleep-related seminars and workshops in the last two years. If you are interested in learning more about sleep quality assessment programs for your employees, contact us to learn more about our programs.