Why organisations shouldn’t underestimate the importance of sleep

Sleep – it’s something workplaces don’t talk about enough or often seen as a personal issue that doesn’t concern companies. But what if we told you that a good night’s sleep is key to improving employee wellbeing and productivity?

Wake-up call

Research has found that a lack of sleep is costing the UK economy more than £1 billion in annual revenue due to employees calling in sick when they’re too tired to work. What’s more, poor sleep has a noticeable impact on staff performance in which it reduces focus, lessens motivation, and increases staff stress levels.

Speaking of stress – there’s a strong correlation between sleep and mental health. In the short term, a lack of sleep seriously impacts one’s mood and makes the body more likely to produce the stress-response hormone, cortisol.

Explained further by the Sleep FoundationSufficient sleep, especially REM sleep, facilitates the brain’s processing of emotional information. During sleep, the brain works to evaluate and remember thoughts and memories, and it appears that a lack of sleep is especially harmful to the consolidation of positive emotional content. This can influence mood and emotional reactivity and is tied to mental health disorders and their severity.” – pretty eye-opening right?!

So, why is it that employees are experiencing such poor sleep?

Give it a rest

Everything from family worries to financial concerns can impact how well we sleep, not to mention the Covid-19 challenges that have undoubtedly disrupted our sleeping patterns over the last 24 months. But, one thing that noticeably stands in the way of many getting sufficient shuteye is work.

Whether that’s unrealistic time pressures, irregular hours, long periods spent commuting or the fact that in today’s society, there’s a collective urge to hustle hard and an encouraging admiration for those that work long hours. So much so, if you’re seen to pause to get the scientifically recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night, there’s fears of being perceived as literally dozing while your career drifts away.

The key to a good night's sleep

As employers, it’s down to you to change the above perceptions and support your employees sleeping habits. Because in reality, when your people are well-rested, they’re much more focussed, better at performing and will ultimately get more work done. Not sure where to start? Here’s our three key recommendations to help your employees sleep better:

1. Provide ways for your people to wind-down

It can be hard to switch off from work, particularly in the current WFH environment that many are in, but fortunately there are activities that employers can offer to help their people unwind. Guided meditations, visual escapes and calming music can help to decrease the effects of stress on our body and really clear the mind before bedtime.

2. Discourage after-hours communications

Introduce a policy that limits after-hours and out-of-office communications, this can reduce the pressure that many staff feel to be constantly online and will ultimately prevent late-night email checks under the duvet!

3. Encourage regular exercise

There’s evidence that exercise does, in fact, improve sleep quality and helps people to fall asleep more quickly. By providing your employees with access to on-demand exercise sessions that elevate the heart rate, you’ll be helping to create the biological processes in the brain and body that contribute to better quality sleep.

Here at Key Wellbeing, we have the tools and resources to support you and your people’s sleeping habits and overall workplace wellbeing. If you think we could help your organisation, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch