Companies should take an active role in how their employees sleep. Many people don't sleep because their children don't sleep or because they overlook how important sleep is to their health and success on the job. Many of my clients, who are sleep-deprived and seeking my help in regaining healthy sleep habits, are teachers and those who work in the finance and medical fields -- all very stressful occupations.
Sleep Disorders and Disease
It has been proven that the quality of sleep impacts health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), poor sleep increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression and heart disease. In addition, poor sleep is affecting business. Sleep deprivation costs American companies $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity, according to Sleep.org, which is powered by the National Sleep Foundation.
Fitbit, Apple Watch, Vivofit
The first step may be awareness through tracking sleep with smart devices, such as the Fitbit, Apple Watch or Vivofit, for example. Many organizations offer one of these devices to employees for free to help them engage in healthy activities during the day, such as walking. Exercise -- even mild exercise like walking -- has been proven to improve health as well as the quality of sleep. In addition, these smart devices make people aware of how well they are sleeping. Note that tech devices should not be used to gather sleep information for a long period of time -- just a couple of days to collect data. Exposure to frequency is not great for sleep, so it should be seen as the first line of action.
Referrals to Sleep Specialists
Another step employers can take is providing medical coverage that supports consulting with a sleep doctor who can detect serious conditions, like sleep apnea. Research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) shows that this condition can increase the likelihood of work accidents. Employees with sleep issues should be encouraged to speak to their healthcare providers about next steps, such as a referral to an ENT and/or sleep specialist for a full sleep study.
Another option that is gaining favor with employers is providing a quiet area where employees can meditate or take a nap while at work. Both of these activities can be refreshing and enable employees to be more productive on the job. Resting just 20 minutes in the afternoon can increase focus and productivity considerably.
If your employer doesn't offer any of these benefits, consider suggesting one or all of them to your manager or HR. If you are an employer or a manager, consider taking an interest in and supporting how well your employees are sleeping. Both employees and organizations stand to reap healthy results.