Why employers can’t hit snooze on tired employees

Research shows that a lack of sleep can negatively impact performance and mental and physical health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than a third of American adults are not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Continue on to learn more.


It’s time for a wake-up call. We’ve all heard the familiar phrases — sleep when you’re dead or burn the midnight oil from high-powered CEOs and celebrities touting how they sacrificed sleep to advance their careers.

But research shows that lack of sleep may have the opposite effect. Rather than helping people get ahead at work, losing out on sleep can negatively impact performance and, more importantly, mental and physical health.

It’s time for employers to recognize the role sleep plays in employee well-being and take steps to foster a workplace culture that reinforces and encourages healthy behaviors.

More than a third of American adults are not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A lack of sleep can lead to:

  • Increased absenteeism and illness. The U.S. loses an equivalent of around 1.2 million working days due to insufficient sleep, and research has found that sleeping fewer than five hours consistently is associated with staying home sick for 4.6 to 8.9 more days.
  • Lost productivity. Losing even just a bit of sleep can affect productivity. A recent study found that participants who lost just 16 minutes of sleep on a nightly basis reported having more distracting thoughts at work.
  • Consequences for physical and mental wellbeing. Lack of sleep has major consequences on long-term health, including increased rates of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

Lack of sleep affects workers regardless of occupation. For employees who work shifts (often overnight), such as in call centers, manufacturing, hospitals and oil and gas, losing sleep can become a safety risk. In fact, findings have shown that shift work sleep disorder impacts approximately 10% of the night and rotating shift work population.

So how can we promote a healthy sleep culture? There are a number of tools and programs that employers can use to show they value and encourage healthy sleep habits, educate employees about how sleep can improve their work performance and support them in sticking to sleep goals. Organizations like the National Sleep Foundation offer employers resources to learn more about the benefits of sleep tracking to monitor sleep stages and tips to improve sleep for everyday health.

Employers can provide employees with tip sheets, send emails or hang posters around the office to encourage healthy sleep habits and explain how critical sleep is for their wellbeing. Tips employers can share include shutting down electronics 30 minutes before bedtime, keeping smartphones and laptops away from bed to create a sleep zone and using a guided breathing exercise or meditation apps to help the body wind down. It’s also important for managers to lead by example and encourage healthy sleep habits, including avoiding sending emails too late in the evening and being conscious of employees working in other time zones.

Wearables can also help people track their activity, sleep and overall health goals. Before the launch of wearable devices, many types of health data, including quantity and quality of sleep, were only accessible to study participants via sleep labs – which are both costly and time consuming. With today’s technology, employees can better understand their sleep patterns and use that data to find a sleep plan that works for them.

Sleep tracking can also be useful to help employees correlate data and insights based on their schedules, activity levels and what they’ve had to eat or drink. For instance, someone who tracks their sleep may find that getting exercise after work helps them get a better night of rest. Having a different sleep pattern on work days versus days off can cause social jetlag — a feeling almost like changing time zones that can take a significant toll on sleep cycle and overall health. That’s why it’s important to keep a consistent sleep schedule throughout the week and the weekend.

Here’s the bottom line: insufficient sleep contributes to poor productivity, worse health outcomes, absenteeism at work and can create safety risks. Today, more and more employers are working to combat the idea of sacrificing sleep in corporate culture and are recognizing that it is an asset to the workplace, not an enemy.

SOURCE: McDonough, A. (28 May 2019) "Why employers can’t hit snooze on tired employees" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/sleep-deprivation-impacting-company-bottom-line


76 Percent of Workforce is Tired Most Weekdays

Originally posted April 15, 2014 on www.ifebp.org.

The Virgin Pulse Institute, an evidence-based organization that puts research to work to help employees and companies thrive, today announced the results of a study designed to better understand employees' sleep disturbances and offer actionable insight to both employers and their workforce. The research outlines why employers supporting sleep programs increase employee productivity, and how these programs help employees feel more appreciated and supported.

Leveraging an online sleep program from vielife, the Virgin Pulse Institute conducted a sleep study in November 2013 with approximately 1,140 employees, all Virgin Pulse members, from three U.S.-based companies. Researchers found that:76 percent of employees felt tired most days of the week40 percent of employees doze off during the day once per month30 percent of employees were unhappy or very unhappy with the quality or quantity of their sleep15 percent doze off during the day at least once per week to once per day.

Dr. Jennifer Turgiss, a co-author of the study and director of the Virgin Pulse Institute, said, "Showing up to work sleep deprived can be the equivalent of showing up to work intoxicated. Employees who don't sleep well have poorer concentration, poorer decision-making abilities, are significantly less able to cope with stressful situations, and are more likely to make unhealthy choices. The effects of poor sleep impair people's focus and motivation, preventing them from reaching their full potential. In attempts to encourage employees to live healthier, often employers - with the help of their health insurers or wellness vendors -focus on simply improving diet and exercise, but this approach ignores one critically important habit: sleep. With its direct link to dangerous health conditions and steep productivity losses, a well-rested workforce is critical to a company's success."

The Effect of Sleep Problems

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has called lack of sleep "an epidemic," linking it to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters and other occupational errors. Many other studies have found employees who sleep fewer than six hours per day are nearly 30 percent more likely to be overweight and have a whole host of health problems like hypertension, diabetes, depression and cancer. These people also take a tremendous cognitive hit on a daily basis - finding it difficult to concentrate at work or complete tasks, resulting in significantly lower productivity. Sleep disturbances cause fatigue-related productivity losses estimated at $1,967 per employee annually, according to a study published in the journal Sleep.

What Causes Sleep Problems?

The Virgin Pulse Institute study found four key themes keeping employees awake at night: worry/stress, mental activity, physical discomfort and environmental disruptors. Many factors within these categories kept participants awake, including:Temperature too high or too low (85.2%)Their partner (71.9%)Unwanted noise (68.6%)Light - too bright (52.8%)Mattress (40%)Young children (35.9%)Medical condition that disturbs sleep (10.2%)

Sleep deprivation was found to have impacts across four key areas: physical well-being; cognitive abilities and productivity; mood; and stress management. Lack of sleep leaves employees less focused on the job and unable to perform at their peak, and leaves them experiencing a decreased feeling of overall well-being, according to the Institute study.

Participants noted that lack of sleep impacted their energy and motivation to participate in physical activities and eat healthy foods. They experienced difficulty concentrating at work or remembering tasks, and felt more irritable at work and home. Sleeplessness also made it harder to manage stress, further impacting their difficulties sleeping. “I come in here in the morning and it's kind of hard to get motivated. I'll be yawning and carrying on and kind of drag for an hour or so before I'm really probably engaged and back doing real performance type of work I would say. So it will be easy for me to just kind of lag around, drink some coffee, walk around, talk to people, or sit at my desk and read Internet news rather than actually work," said one participant."[I would] blow up at the wrong thing or you blow up at the wrong kid or something. And you just go, oh, man. I should have been able to handle that one," said another participant. “And the other thing that I noticed when I go through the period where I have more lack of sleep, I feel more scatterbrained, like I have all of these things to do. And normally, I'm very organized and prioritize and will at least write a list, and everything goes out the window and I start forgetting to do things or bring this in the morning or things like that. And that really bothers me. I hate it when I drop a ball because I forgot something," said another participant. “I think there is a slow-down, in terms of getting tasks done, just because, again, your attention span isn't fully there. You might not be as with it," said another participant. “I probably have got a shorter fuse, a little grumpier," said a participant.

"Our study made one thing clear: lack of sleep is crippling America's workforce. Employers can't turn a blind eye. Whether they offer an online sleep program, encourage employees to use vacation days, or provide other tools, employers must address sleep issues in order to create a thriving workforce and business," said Turgiss. "Not only will employees be more rested, but they'll feel more supported by their employers, helping them perform better and become better able to engage in work and in life."


Workers with windows sleep more soundly

Originally posted by Dan Cook on http://www.benefitspro.com

"What light through yonder window breaks?” Romeo asks in the second act of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.”

Perhaps it is the light of the glow of good health and the brightness of eye of the well-rested. At least, that’s what a recent survey suggests the legendary lover was referring to.

The research, presented last week at the annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, was based on a study of 49 day-shift windowed and windowless workers.

Those with windows got 173 percent more white light at work than non-windowed workers.

The well-lit employees slept 46 minutes more a night than those without windows.

Whether it’s the light, the rest, or a combination of both, the windowed workers were more physically active during the day and reported having a higher quality of life than their four-walls-surround-me peers.

They didn’t get as sleepy during the day (no, duh) and reported fewer “sleep disturbances” at night.

This window into the workplace was provided by doctoral candidate Ivy Cheung, in the interdepartmental neuroscience program at Northwestern University in Chicago.


One-Third Of U.S. Workers Aren't Getting Enough Sleep

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com

Despite the recommendation that adults get between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, a new study shows that about a third of us aren't hitting those goals.

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at data from the 2010 National Health Interview Survey on sleep habits of U.S. workers. They found that 30 percent of people in the study -- which calculates to about 40.6 million workers in the U.S. -- get fewer than six hours of sleep a night. Their research was published in this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The study of 15,214 people also shed light on what kinds of jobs are linked with less sleep. The researchers found that people who work in manufacturing get less sleep than other workers, with 34.1 percent of them reporting getting less than six hours of sleep a night.

In addition, people who work the night shift were more likely to report getting inadequate sleep (44 percent), compared with those working during the day (28.8 percent).

Among people who worked the night shift, certain industries had high prevalences of inadequate sleep, including 69.7 percent of warehouse and transportation workers and 52.3 percent of health-care and social assistance workers, according to the report.

The researchers also found that people between ages 30 and 64 were more likely to report not getting enough sleep, compared with workers between ages 18 and 29 and workers age 65 and older.

People who work more than one job are also more likely to not get enough sleep during the night, compared with people who just have one job -- 37 percent versus 29.4 percent. People who work more than 40 hours a week are also less likely to get enough sleep per night, compared with those who work a 40-or-under week.

Sleep deprivation is dangerous because it raises the risk of a whole host of health problems. Studies have linked inadequate rest with depression, a decreased immune system and memory issues, WebMD reported. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to obesity, high blood pressure and daytime fatigue, which could present safety issues on the job, Harvard Medical School reported.

 

 

 


Sleep Deprivation Has Same Impact as Binge Drinking

Although drink driving is socially unacceptable sleep deprivation is so extreme in the UK that one million people are doing the equivalent of getting behind the wheel intoxicated every day, without alcohol passing their lips, having a profound impact on their employer and workplace.

The data, from Vielife's online health & wellbeing assessment, also shows that one in three (approximately 100 million European working adults) suffer from 'poor sleep'. These people are living in danger of a semi-conscious existence equal to repeatedly driving their car well over the alcohol limit.

Women are more at risk than men - 35% have poor sleep compared to 31% of men. Depression has a profound correlation with poor sleep.

The survey found people working a five day week generally have better sleep than people working more or less than five days.

Being 'sleep drunk' is caused by the tiredness felt after prolonged waking hours which has the equivalent effect as a raised blood alcohol level above the legal limit to drive.

Tony Massey, Vielife's chief medical officer, said: "Being 'sleep drunk' is a common issue that causes personal and work life issues and a healthy lifestyle is at the heart of solving it."

The data is based on 'sleep scores' recorded by users of Vielife's online health & wellbeing platform. A sleep score indicates the overall quality and satisfaction of a person's sleep as part of a wider 'wellbeing score' used to help people identify and work to improve their health issues.

This research was based on 38,784 assessments of people employed in the UK taken between 2009 and 2011.

By David Woods