Sleep isn’t often an issue that comes up in the boardroom. Yet its impact is huge – it has profound effects on behavior and performance so there could be a significant productivity boost to your organisation’s productivity if employees who aren’t sleeping well would change to healthier sleeping habits.
Adults generally need to sleep between seven and nine hours a night though this varies from person to person and depends on a number of factors, including lifestyle, age and genetic make-up. Having the odd bad night’s sleep is not much of a concern but long term sleep impairment can lead to a number of complications, including obesity, heart disease and diabetes (2) Not getting enough sleep can also lead to moodiness and irritability – not the most conducive qualities for a happy, productive team.
Poor sleep is undoubtedly an issue for employers – for example, UK workers lose between eight and nine days of work every year due to lack of sleep, according to the findings of a 2015 poll of 2500 people conducted by Big Health (3). For those suffering from insomnia, the figure is almost double at 14.6 lost work days a year. The study also showed that poor sleep adversely affects respondents’ concentration (46%), ability to complete work (38 per cent) and staying awake during the day (27%). In addition, Paul Kelley (a clinical research associate at the University of Oxford's Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute) has suggested that a ‘normal’ 9am to 5.30pm working day may be unsuitable and lead to sleep deprivation for younger workers as these hours as they don’t align well with their naturally occurring biological waking and sleeping rhythms(4).
As an employer, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to adapt you business’ working hours to accommodate everyone’s nocturnal needs. But HR professionals can make a positive difference when it comes to raising awareness of employees in their organisations of the importance of good sleep and encouraging employees to think twice about staying up late too often when an early night would be better.