Are your employees excited about their dream job, but can’t stay awake at work? According to a recent National Sleep Foundation poll, almost a third of American employees report that daytime sleepiness interferes with their daily work activities at least a few days each month. And thirteen percent report napping while on the job.
Lack of adequate sleep leads to poor mood, ability to focus, and ability to access higher-level cognitive functions — all leading to poor work performance. In some cases, sleepiness can lead to outright endangerment if an employee’s job involves operating heavy equipment. The trend toward extending work hours to accommodate a 24/7 business responsiveness can exasperate the problem of sleep-deprived employees, as more and more people take work home with them, take advantage of flexible work hours that require pre-dawn commutes, travel for business across time zones, or work shifts that vastly different from the 9-5 workday of the past.
Sleep deprivation can cause problems not only at work, but in your employees’ personal life as well. And the slow accumulation of lack of sleep can show itself quickly, whether in alertness in a meeting, or long-term chronic health concerns, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even early mortality.
So how can you help your employees get the ZZZs they need, so they can be at their best — both at work and in their personal life? Here are some ways you can help your employees rest easier:
Have Some Pillow Talk
Many people are aware of their sleep problems — but many aren’t. While some employees may be battling bedtime, they are reluctant to talk about it in their workplace, where they may feel judged or discounted for a real condition that they are dealing with. Talk to your employees in an open discussion about this all-too-common condition, and help them get the help they need to get a good night’s rest. Encourage them to be evaluated by their primary health care physician to see if they have a medical reason for sleep deprivation and can be referred to a sleep specialist who can address this all-to-common problem. If they know that you are concerned about their lack of sleep from a personal (not just a performance) perspective, they will likely respond.
Encourage a Healthy Work/Life Balance
If your business is exasperating sleep problems among your employees, you need to address it. Whether it’s creating expectations to check and respond to email 24/7, encouraging extended work days, or requiring travel that taxes the body and impacts the family, you must talk about — and model — a healthy work/life balance. Make sure employees feel supported by it, if you are going to help employees be their best both on and off the job.
Light Up Their Work Life
Exposure to natural light, even just for 30 minutes a day, has been shown to improve overall sleep health and improve mood as well. Consider starting a morning walking group to help employees get the light they need to regulate their body clock. If your employees have access to windows, encourage them to work near natural light if possible. Not an alternative in your office? Consider switching to blue enriched white light in your workplace. Research shows that blue-enriched lighting in the workplace can improve performance and alertness during the day, as well as enhance sleep quality.
Sleep health is as essential as any other aspect of employee health. By taking active measures to ensure a rested workforce, you will be improving not only productivity, but also the overall health and wellbeing of your employees.
Have any tips you’d like to share on improving employee sleep health? We would all like to know! Share your story in the comments below.
If you suspect your employees might be losing sleep over money issues, consider a money management lunch seminar. My Partner Relations team and I offer a variety of money management topics at our Lunch and Learn programs. We bring the experts (and lunch!) to you, and there is no charge. Learn more about this popular employee benefit — and rest easy.