World Sleep Day: work can impact employees' sleep

Today (13/03/20) is World Sleep Day, a day intended to celebrate sleep, however, a health and wellbeing provider has questioned whether work related stress is making UK employees sleep less, as they are getting less than the recommended amount.

Experts suggest we should get between seven to nine hours of sleep a night, however, the average UK employee only receives six hours. Towergate Health and Protection have said that “hectic work schedules and pressure to meet deadlines can exacerbate the sleeplessness issue.”

Brett Hill, distribution director at Towergate Health and Protection said:

We live in a constantly “on” society, where it’s increasingly normal for work to spill into our home lives. But this can have a negative impact on our ability to switch off and get a good night’s sleep. Businesses need to ensure that employees take complete breaks from work, to mentally and physically recuperate and be reenergised for the next working day.

Organising nutrition talks at work, helping employees to learn about food that will encourage better sleep and vice versa, and facilitating group exercise can all go a long way to help employees establish healthier routines.

We’ve all felt the ramifications of a bad night’s sleep before; mood is negatively affected, productivity lowered, and tolerance levels tested. The good news is that there are plenty of things that employers can do to help staff achieve better sleep patterns – which can have a positive effect on them emotionally, physically and the business as a whole. From creating healthy work/life boundaries to signposting staff to additional support services available, good sleep needn’t be a distant dream.

The Advanced Workplace Associate (AWA), an independent management consultancy in partnership with the Centre for Evidence-Based Management (CEBMa), identified that sleep is important when it comes to our cognitive performance.

AWA has given tips on how to get a better nights sleep, they are:

  • Develop a regular sleeping schedule – go to bed and get up at the same time. This can help establish a routine, reinforcing the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
  • Create a bedtime ritual – experts believe that doing the same things each night tells your body that it’s time to rest. Warm baths, reading or listening to relaxing music eases the transition between wakefulness and sleepiness.
  • Avoid heavy meals, stimulating activities, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine before bedtime.
  • Exercise can help prompt you into a restful night’s sleep, but only if you do it during the day (not in the late evening).
  • Minimise light and noise when trying to sleep – turn off electronic devices like tablets and phones as changes in light can kid your body that it’s time to wake up.
  • Maintain a comfortable bedroom temperature so your body doesn’t overheat and dehydrate while you are asleep.
  • Manage stress – having too many things on your mind can disrupt sleep. There are many ways to address stress, depending on the source. For example, writing down the things that are on your mind may help “park” them for tomorrow.