Three Ways to Support Employee Sleep in the Workplace

Posted on Thursday, May 23, 2024 by EditorialNo comments

It’s estimated that adults between 18 and 65 should aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night.

However, according to data from Nuffield Health in its 2023 ‘Healthier Nation Index’, the average amount of hours has dropped to 5.91 throughout Britain, down from 6.11 in 2022 and 6.19 in 2021. Even more concerning is that only 36% of respondents said that they considered the sleep they get as ‘good’.

Sleep deprivation doesn’t just affect employees on an individual level but also has a huge impact on businesses across all industries. Research from the Rand Corporation found that it can result in 200,000 working days and up to £40 billion lost every year.

This makes it crucial for employers to support their workforce and encourage them to improve their sleeping patterns where possible. Here are three ways you can use the workplace to encourage better sleep for employees.

Lighting Improvements

The lighting within workplaces is often fluorescent white bulbs that can affect employees’ concentration and ability to relax and sleep when they get home. This is where employers have the opportunity to enhance lighting conditions, promote adequate Vitamin D intake, and support employees in maintaining their natural circadian rhythms aligned with the phases of the day.

Alternatively, switching to an enriched blue light has been proven through research to help improve concentration, mood, and performance while improving the quality of sleep later in the evening.

Work Hours and Setting Expectations

One factor affecting sleep quality is the amount of work employees have to complete, which can lead to overtime work being done at home. In fact, research from Ciphr found that full-time employees worked 18 extra working days outside of regular working hours over the course of a year.

Employers can use this as an opportunity to establish with their workforce that work should stay within the business's operating hours. This can help them maintain a healthy work-life balance and not stress themselves over having to work extra hours that can lead to sleepless nights. Setting boundaries and expectations around work can also be important to show workforces that striking that balance is crucial to a happy working life. This could even extend to shift management that works with natural circadian rhythms rather than working against them.

Part of these expectations could be encouraging your employees to find a way to switch off outside of working hours with messaging around reimagining their commute. Ben Mercer, a road bike enthusiast and director at Leisure Lakes Bikes, offers how changing your journey home could support sleep: “Switching up the method of travelling to and from work could make a massive difference to sleeping patterns and improve not just sleep health, but also overall physical health as well.

“For example, if you opt for cycling into and from work on a road bike rather than driving or using public transport, you’re expending more energy on your journey compared to when you are stationary behind the wheel or sitting on a bus. At the end of the day, depending on how fiercely you’re pedalling to and from the office, you’re bound to be more physically tired, letting you drift off easier. Plus, there’s an innate link between exercise and helping to improve mental health.”

Education and Engagement

Your employees might suffer from poor sleep simply due to a lack of education around it. Sleep is something that many might take for granted and see as a chore, and they may not understand how it affects their day-to-day lives both in and out of the office. By actively educating and engaging with your workforce through interactive workshops or personalised sleep-tracking challenges, you can encourage them to develop healthy sleep habits and experience a positive impact on their overall wellbeing.

This could encourage your workers to reevaluate how they approach their sleeping patterns and schedules, taking it more seriously and seeing the impact through the available data and statistics.

Knowing the importance of sleep to work performance and the wellbeing of your employees can help improve overall health and productivity and build positive relationships between management and the workforce. This is why supporting and promoting sleep improvement is so important in the modern working world.

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