Sleep and the Workplace

The Impact of Sleep

The quality and quantity of sleep we get has a profound impact on our wellbeing. Research has shown that insufficient sleep can have both mental and physical consequences, ranging from fatigue, irritability, and poor concentration to weakened immune system and increased risk of physical illness. All of these factors combined make it vitally important to ensure that we get enough rest. each night.

Employers need to take special care to ensure that their employees receive adequate sleep, since it directly affects an employee’s ability to perform their job. Studies have found that employees who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be late for work, miss deadlines, or make more mistakes on the job. Poor sleep can also affect an employee’s mood, making them more irritable which can lead to clashes with colleagues or customers, and lead to a decrease in morale.

It is not just mental performance that is affected by lack of sleep. Studies have indicated a strong correlation between inadequate sleep and increased risk of physical health issues, such as heart disease, chronic pain, and reduced immunity to illnesses. These conditions can all lead to long term absences from work and a decrease in productivity, ultimately costing employers money.

 

Understanding our circadian rhythm

The term circadian rhythm refers to our internal body clock, which regulates when we feel sleepy or wide awake. It is essential for good health and wellbeing, and also affects our sleep quality and quantity. Our circadian rhythm is controlled by a tiny cluster of neurons in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and is affected by external signals such as light and temperature.

When our circadian rhythm is disrupted through lack of routine, jet lag or shift work, it can have serious consequences on our health and wellbeing. Regular sleep patterns can lead to tiredness during the day, making it difficult to stay alert and focused. This can ultimately lead to decreased productivity and poor job performance.

It is therefore important to understand our own individual needs to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Developing and maintaining a healthy sleep routine can help to ensure that this rhythm is not disrupted. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, avoiding stimulants such as caffeine late at night and getting plenty of natural light during the day can help to re-establish our circadian rhythm.

 

The necessity for routine

Having a regular sleep routine is also key for our emotional wellbeing. Not getting enough sleep or having disrupted sleep can lead to feelings of sadness and irritability. So, if employers wish to maintain a motivated and productive workforce, it is important to support and encourage employees to stick to a healthy sleep routine.

Good quality sleep is essential for both physical and mental wellbeing, and understanding our own circadian rhythm is an important step towards achieving this. It can take several weeks to establish a regular sleep pattern, but the rewards are well worth it. Employers should therefore be aware of the importance of sleep and do what they can to support employees in understanding and maintaining their circadian rhythms.

 

Identify sleep associations and sleep stages

Our sleep requirements help to define the quality and quantity of the hours we need to get a restful, restorative night’s sleep. A crucial factor in understanding the importance of sleep for employees is to identify the sleep associations, that is, the connections between the various events, activity, and environment. Sleep is associated with several things, including physical activity, noise, light, nutrition, and many other external and internal factors. Knowing the associations of sleep allows us to manage those factors and improve the quality of our sleep.

Sleep Stages

In addition to understanding the associations of sleep, it is also important to understand the stages of sleep. Each night our sleep is composed of several different stages which each have unique characteristics and functions. These stages are known as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During NREM sleep, our heart rate and breathing slow down, and we experience deep relaxation. During REM sleep, our eyes move rapidly, and our brain is much more active. In general, we need more hours of REM sleep than NREM sleep in order to feel fully rested.

Although it is important to understand the stages of sleep separately, it is also important to recognise that the two stages are linked and vital for our overall wellbeing. Without the correct balance between these stages, we can experience poor quality sleep, which can lead to fatigue, daytime sleepiness, and other negative consequences. Knowing the connections and understanding the importance of sleep for employees is essential to ensure they are getting the adequate, quality sleep they need.

 

Keeping a sleep diary to identify potential issues

Sleep issues can be difficult to identify and address. By keeping a sleep diary, it becomes much easier to track potential issues and identify potential solutions. A sleep diary records details such as the time of day you went to bed and woke up, how tired you felt upon waking, any naps during the day, and any medications taken during the night.

The most important thing to do when keeping a sleep diary is to track your sleep-wake cycle regularly over time. It’s important to record data such as the time you went to bed, the time you woke up, how much total sleep you had, and how rested you felt upon waking. This data can help you identify patterns in your sleep cycle, such as sleeping too little one day and too much the next or sleeping too late one night and too early the next. This information can help you to identify and address any potential issues that could be contributing to your poor sleep.

Keeping a sleep diary can be an invaluable tool for both employees and employers. It can provide valuable insight into the root causes of sleep problems and help identify potential solutions. Employers should encourage their staff to keep track of their sleep cycles and provide any necessary support to help address any sleep issues. Doing so will help ensure that employees are well-rested and productive during the workday.

 

Develop better sleep hygiene

How can we ensure we get a good night’s sleep? Sleep hygiene or sleep habits are the combination of practices, actions and habits that lead to better sleep. Improving sleep hygiene can help reduce stress and other stress-related illnesses and make us more productive.

  • Stimulating activities such as using technology, watching TV or reading should be avoided at least an hour before bed. Instead, relaxing activities such as stretching, or yoga can help to relieve stress and help us to feel calm and sleepy.
  • Creating healthy dietary habits can also contribute to better sleep hygiene. Eating a healthy dinner several hours before bed can reduce our risk of sleep disturbances and late-night cravings can be dampened by eating a healthy snack before bed. Avoiding caffeine and alcohol before sleep is also recommended and drinking lots of water during the day can help us to stay hydrated.
  • Getting regular exercise daily can also help encourage natural sleep. However, exercising too close to bedtime, can have the opposite effect so it may be necessary to plan our exercise routine accordingly.

By following the above tips, we can all work to create better sleep hygiene which will help us to be more productive and healthy. The key is to stick to the same sleep routine and to make the bedroom a supportive and comfortable sleep environment. Sleep is one of the most important factors in good health and should not be overlooked, so make sure you allow yourself enough time to get a good night’s sleep!

 

The impacts and risks of reduced sleep

The impacts and risks of reduced sleep are very real and are important for both employers and employees to be aware of. The lack of adequate and sufficient sleep can have a wide range of negative effects on an individual’s physical and mental health, including an increased risk of developing serious illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and depression. There are also less serious but still considerable impacts, such as impaired cognitive functioning, reduced energy and alertness, and an increased risk of making mistakes.

For employers

In an employer context, sleep deprivation can result in workplace absences, poor employee performance, lower productivity, and a decrease in morale. Furthermore, it can undermine efforts to establish a safe and healthy work environment as employees are more prone to making mistakes when sleep deprived. As such, employers have a duty of care to recognise the risks posed by inadequate sleep and act accordingly by providing a conducive work environment for a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

Sufficient or adequate sleep is particularly important at certain times during the day, when pressures at work are the highest. For example, during the early morning or later at night, when alertness and concentration are naturally lower, fatigue and exhaustion are more likely. Employers should therefore ensure that employees are not deprived of sleep during these times, as this can cause them to become distracted and make poor decisions, leading to safety risks.

Employers should also know some individuals may be more vulnerable to sleep deprivation than others. Those suffering from the Cost-of-Living Crisis, who often struggle to make ends meet, may be more likely to cut down on their sleep time, as well as those who are working long hours or on nightshifts. In these cases it is essential that employers have the necessary policies, processes and systems in place to support their staff, such as flexible working schedules or access to restorative sleep aids, to ensure that staff are getting the rest they need.

 

Techniques to improve the quality and quantity of sleep

One of the simplest and most effective ways to improve sleep is to establish consistent sleeping and waking times. Having a regular bedtime and wakeup time can help the body adjust and reset its internal clock. Going to bed and waking up approximately the same times each day will help people to fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer.

  • Reduce caffeine and alcohol consumption before bed. Caffeine is a stimulant that can make it difficult to settle down and fall asleep. Alcohol has sedative properties; it affects sleep quality and can lead to frequent night awakenings.
  • Creating a sleep-friendly environment is critical to improving the sleep quality and quantity. This includes limiting noise, light, temperature, and other distractions that can impede sleep. Creating a cool, dark, and quiet environment will increase the chances of sleeping properly.
  • Wind down routines are also important when it comes to falling asleep. Doing activities like reading a book or listening to music can help people relax and get ready for sleep. Avoiding screens like phones and tablets which can be too stimulating for the brain will also help with this process.
  • Exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality and duration.  Moderate-intensity aerobic activities like walking, running, and swimming can be effective in reducing the time it takes to fall asleep and increasing total sleep duration. However, exercising too close to bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep.

By following these steps and creating a healthy sleep routine, employees can maximise their sleep quality and quantity, which can result in improved cognitive performance and better workplace productivity. Employers should also encourage their employees to prioritise their rest, setting clear expectations and providing resources and tools to help do so.

 

Better Sleep for Better Days

We all know the importance of a well-rested employee. Here at Life & Progress, we are committed to providing our staff with the resources they need to get a good night’s rest. This is why we are offering a special training session to discuss our topic of Better Sleep for Better Days.

Now is the time to act and ensure that our employees are getting the rest they need for better days. Let us show our staff that we care about their health and wellbeing with this one-of-a-kind training session. Sign up today and give your employees the gift of better sleep.

For more details contact us for a no-obligation meeting in person or online, on how our training session can help you.
0808 164 3941 | service@lifeandprogress.co.uk

 

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