Sleep well, work well

Statistics show that half of employees do not get enough quality sleep1 and would be happier, healthier and more productive if they did, as the upsurge in recent research points to numerous health (mental, physical and emotional) consequences of poor sleep and lack of sleep.

One effect of not sleeping well or enough is a tendency to eat more during the day. Poor sleep causes hormone levels to change and leads to an imbalance between the mind and body, perhaps eventually disease. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), these diseases include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression.2

Sleepy People = Unproductive People

While it's clear that sleep and health go hand in hand, lack of sleep also affects workplace performance in many ways....

  • Productivity: 43% of professionals who reported suffering from sleep loss said they completed tasks to a lower standard than normal.3
  • Learning and thinking: Lack of sleep impairs attention, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and problem solving. This makes it more difficult to learn efficiently.4
  • Judgement: Deficient sleep hurts the ability to make sound judgments because people may not assess situations accurately and act on them wisely.5
  • Lack of focus and concentration: Professionals who averaged only 6.5 hours of sleep reported poorer workplace performance due to tiredness, with over half admitting to struggling to stay focused in meetings, taking longer to complete tasks, and finding it challenging to generate new ideas.6
  • Difficulty multi-tasking: Along with a lack of focus and diminished creative capacities, poor sleep leads to reduced motivation to learn and less capability to manage competing demands.7

The weekend lie-in: yea or nay?

Sleep affects everyone from the CEO to the employee who was just hired (as there's yet to be a human being that doesn't sleep!).  Thus company wellbeing strategy that includes a focus on sleeping habits is crucial for the health of employees and the business itself. In order to encourage people to change their sleeping habits, it's helpful to first look at current lifestyle behaviours.

For example, it's a common misconception that one can make up for "lost sleep". So frequent in fact that 80% of workers use the weekends to make up for lost sleep during the week and take an average of 7 days off per year just to catch up on sleep.8 But unfortunately the truth is that it can't be recuperated or averaged out.

One less hour of sleep per night adds up significantly over time and can't be made up by sleeping in on a weekend or sleeping more the next night. The body does not view sleep on a simple plus-minus scale.9

After sleeping poorly, or very little, people will resort to coping mechanisms to get them through the day and battle their sleep "deficit". These include, but are not limited to: caffeine, energy drinks, and sugary foods. Anything that keeps them going, especially when they need to perform at work.

When it comes to corporate health and wellbeing strategy, the phrase "you snooze, you lose" is very apt. It's important that programmes address the issue of sleep and it's in the interest of the business to help resolve and eliminate the many issues that arise due to poor sleep, such as stress, declining productivity, and presenteeism to name but a few.

Health and wellbeing strategy: you snooze, you lose

While commonly thought of as a personal "problem", sleep disturbances affect the health of the entire business. Implementing wellbeing strategy tactics that help employees realise the importance of getting a good night's sleep, on a regular basis, will lead to benefits all around. Still not convinced? Go ahead and sleep on it.

  • 1. Insomnia, Cleveland Clinic, 2018.
  • 2. Scary truth about sleep deprivation and chronic diseases, Unity point at home, 2015.
  • 3. Boosting Productivity at Work. Headspace, 2020.
  • 2. Scary truth about sleep deprivation and chronic diseases, Unity point at home, 2015.
  • 4, 5. 10 things to hate about sleep loss, WebMD, 2019.
  • 6, 7. Does it matter if you’re tired at work? Hult International Business School, 2016.
  • 8. 51% Of Adults Worldwide Don’t Get Enough Sleep,, 2018.
  • 9. Can you make up on lost sleep? Here’s what science says, Time, 2019.

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