Sleep, Performance and the Workplace

Poor sleep health is a common problem facing Americans. 25 percent of U.S. adults report insufficient sleep or rest at least 15 out of every 30 days according to Healthy People 2020. Sleeping well for an adequate amount of time is essential for good health and a productive, high quality day. Insufficient sleep and a variety of sleep disorders are risk factors for a number of diseases and health problems.

Consequences of insufficient sleep:
Sleep loss and even poor quality sleep can lead to an increase in errors at the workplace and decreased productivity. In addition, sleep disturbances result in higher rates of motor vehicle accidents, reduction in job performance, and more job-related injuries and accidents.

So what can employers do about this?
Employers can institute policies and practices that promote employee health and promote good sleeping habits. Consider implementing some of the suggestions below:

  • Provide on-site education seminars on the importance of good sleep habits and how to obtain better sleep
  • Offer online sleep health education programs for employees
  • Provide a physical space for nap breaks
  • Install bright lights that help maintain the brains alerting signal
  • Offer healthy food choices at work, as a healthy diet is linked to better overall health
  • Provide access to an exercise facility as nutrition, exercise and sleep are critical factors in health, weight and energy levels
  • For 2nd and 3rd shift employees, make taxi vouchers available for those who feel too sleepy to drive home from work
  • Examine work demands with respect to shift length
  • Prohibit forced or coercive overtime
  • Allow alternative work schedules including telecommuting to give employees time to sleep
  • Institute regulations to limit work hours and prevent sleep deprivation in shift workers with specific job functions (e.g., pilots, truck drivers, medical residents).

Sleep is vital to health and wellness. The need for sleep is biologically similar to the need to eat and drink and is crucial for maintaining life and health. Act today! Consider your role in creating a healthy work environment and partnering for a healthy workforce.