It's about the quantity and the quality of sleep
However, managing sleep presents an employer with a unique set of complexities. First, it is not simply a case of getting enough hours of sleep - both quantity and quality of sleep have a significant impact, with poor quality sleep undermining many potential health benefits. Second, a range of factors can influence sleep, such as lifestyle choices, physical health and mental wellbeing. Identifying the root cause of poor sleep behaviours can therefore prove to be a challenge. Third, the relationship between sleep and health is bi-directional - sleep can be both a cause and an effect of poor lifestyle choices.
On the one hand those who don’t sleep well can lack the energy and motivation to engage in healthy lifestyle activities; on the other, people engaging in unhealthy lifestyles are missing out on the benefits of improved health, which can include better sleep. Last, while seven to eight hours of sleep is viewed as the ideal, people often fail to recognise that both too little, and too much sleep, can have a negative impact on health and productivity.
What can be done? While we are improving our understanding of the importance of a good night’s sleep, effective interventions in this sphere are arguably still lacking. Employers can have a profound impact on their staff’s sleep patterns by promoting an effective work-life balance, providing support for physical and mental wellbeing and promoting a healthier lifestyle.
Through the Vitality wellness programme, we have seen that healthier people sleep better, and that making healthy lifestyle choices, such as exercising regularly, aids good sleep. Investing in workplace wellness interventions can provide a number of benefits – they are often perceived as a valuable employee benefit; they provide employers with a way to positively engage with their staff; and they directly enhance health and productivity.