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Sleep Well, Work Better: 3 Reasons Employers Should Prioritize a Good Night’s Rest

 In an ever-changing work landscape filled with 24/7 expectations and an always-on mentality, sleep is often the last item on the to-do list. Sometimes it’s overlooked completely.

Indeed, Harvard research found that insomnia leads to the loss of 11.3 days’ worth of productivity each calendar year, or $2,280 per worker. According to Forbes, insomnia may be responsible for a nationwide dip in productivity worth $63.2 billion. That’s billion with a “B.”

It may seem counterintuitive, but business leaders should prioritize sleep not only for their employees, but for themselves.

 Prioritize ZZZs … or pay the price

Absenteeism and presenteeism – when someone is present, but not mentally focused – are common consequences of a sleep deficit. Without the mental capability to operate properly, employees cost organizations significantly.

In 2015, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society examined thousands of peer-reviewed articles and determined that for individuals between age 18 and 60, a minimum of seven hours of sleep is essential for optimal health. Unfortunately, Harvard Business Review found that in 2016, 43% of people did not get enough sleep at least four nights a week.

The good news is HR leaders can help. Stressing the importance of sleep to employees not only benefits their health, but leads to greater organizational efficiency. A few ways HR can prioritize sleep are:

  • sending emails with “snooze tips,” like keeping the room cool at night and making sure screen time is limited an hour before bed
  • providing sleep-encouraging swag like eye masks or calming essential oils

Better health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, poor sleep increases the risk of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, depression and heart disease. On the other hand, good sleep strengthens the immune system and increases physical and mental ability. Employees who have adequate amounts of sleep have better overall health, which can increase efficiency, lower unanticipated time off and reduce health care costs.

Mental synergy

Emotional stability and mental performance also are affected by insufficient rest. Sleep deficiency can hinder employees from thinking clearly or keeping their emotions in check, while outright deprivation leads to slowed thought processes, decreased memory, learning difficulties and negative emotions such as irritability and anger. The mind has a harder time paying attention and learning when deprived of sleep.  A lack of it reduces the ability to strengthen nerve connections related to memory. Sleep helps nurture the synergy of emotional and mental commitment at work.

Productive, committed employees are the foundation of organizational efficiency.