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Sleep Deprivation in the Workplace: Why It Matters to Your Company

sleep deprivation in the workplace; sleep workplace; sleep and productivity; cost of sleep deprivationHow is Sleep Deprivation in the Workplace Affecting Your Business?

Vast amounts of research today proves that sleep deprivation and sleep related issues have a grave impact on overall well-being. But when compared to other fields of medicine, sleep is a fairly new one. Growing up you probably didn’t hear much about sleep doctors or the importance of sleep in the workplace. Today, we have entire clinics and research centers dedicated solely to sleep and the issues surrounding it. This mounting evidence makes it clear we need to pay more attention to the topic of sleep and its impact on health.

Not yet convinced that sleep deprivation has a direct impact on your workplace? Consider the following:

  • Most professional sports teams are beginning to hire sleep doctors and specialists to work with their athletes.
  • If you name any health or wellness topic, there is data to prove sleep deprivation will make that condition worse.
  • There are a number of studies that show your leadership skill set drops the more sleep deprived you are. Even if you try to overcome your lack of sleep, your employees recognize when you are sleep deprived. Not only is effectiveness as a leader compromised, but you are also perceived as an ineffective leader.
  • Sleep deprivation costs a company approximately $3000 a year per employee.
  • Sleep related fatigue costs U.S. businesses an estimated $150 billion a year for lost productivity, absenteeism and workplace accidents. (National Sleep Foundation; sleepfoundation.org)
  • Consider the safety of your employees and the customers you serve. It was determined that the cause for two recent train crashes in the United States was undiagnosed sleep apnea. In 2016, New Jersey train engineer was diagnosed with sleep apnea one month after his train crashed going double the speed limit, killing one and injuring 100 passengers. In 2013, a New York commuter train crashed after going into a 30 mph curve at the speed of 82 mph, killing four. It was later determined he had fallen asleep at the controls and had undiagnosed sleep apnea.

What Can You do to Impact Sleep Deprivation in the Workplace?

There is no denying sleep is a now a very popular topic and one we cannot afford to ignore. Being sleep deprived prevents us from living a well-balanced healthy life. It also prevents us from having successful leaders and teams and better productivity in the workplace. Where do you begin as an employer or leader?

  • Start with education. Sleep is addressed and improved in a variety of ways. Some companies take the issue so seriously they allow employees to hit snooze and report to work late. Others have installed nap pods and nap rooms on campus. But these extreme measures are not the only answers. One of the most important aspects is education. Providing employees with educational seminars and materials can help them begin to recognize problems they may have with sleep. In most cases, small changes in health habits and sleep routines begin to have immediate benefits.
  • Provide support when an employee needs additional care for sleep deprivation. Can you believe there now are 88 different sleep disorders? There are also advancements in technology for testing and treatment of disorders like sleep apnea and restless leg syndrome. It is important to recognize the signs of sleep deprivation and encourage employees to talk to their doctor if you suspect it may be effecting their work or their health. Depending on the nature of their work role, this could be equally important to the safety of your workplace.
  • Incorporate more targeted programs on sleep and health into your employee wellness and safety offerings. Be sure the topic of sleep is consistently addressed through regular health coaching, educational materials and employee challenges. Our health coaches address sleep with individuals by asking them questions about their sleep patterns. They help them to see the possible correlation between their health risks and sleep deprivation. We continue to make it a goal or focus during each of our follow-up sessions. Raising awareness helps employees recognize the seriousness of the issue and gradually work towards improved sleep behaviors. Individualized coaching also gives an opportunity to recognize serious risks and make referrals to further care where needed.
  • Encourage counseling and better stress management tools. Educate employees about your EAP program if available. A major life event can deeply impact an individual’s sleep patterns, which can effect all aspects of their life. Programs like our ‘Something’s Gotta Give’ Stress Breaks educate employees on adopting better stress management skills. This can improve their ability to relax and let go of daily stressors so they can achieve better sleep habits.

Keep in mind individual success, lifestyle and health habits are all inter-related. It is about aiming wellness goals towards improved balance and overall well-being. The most effective way to inspire this in your group is to create a workplace culture that encourages healthy behaviors. Make your efforts continuous and integrate them into daily business practices. It takes commitment and hard work, but the reward is healthier, more productive and more committed employees.

Shelly Beall is founder and ShellyHeadshotowner of SB Wellness Group. SB Wellness has been helping businesses develop customized solutions for wellness programs with proven success for more than 20 years. From planning and implementation to screening and reporting, we orchestrate each stage of the wellness development process. Find out more at sbwellness.com

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