Our 24/7 society has led to extended work hours with around-the-clock availability on mobile devices. This means that sleep often drops to the bottom of the priority list. In fact, nearly 30 percent of Americans are sleep-deprived, regularly getting less than seven to nine hours of sleep a day. And those in the health care, warehouse and transportation industries are most at risk, given long hours and late shifts that cut into a good night of shut-eye.
Why Employers Should Care (and Help!)
Our Limeade Insights team found that “get more sleep” was our #3 well-being goal. Workers who don’t get enough sleep are at increased risk for depression, obesity, heart disease and diabetes. They’re also less able to concentrate, learn and retain information, and are more prone to illness, accidents and injuries. These issues contribute to increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, disengaged employees and rising health care costs. (Yes, all of this from a sleepy staff!)
So what can you do to help employees who need more sleep? Try these five strategies:
1. Create sleep challenges.
Talk about a fun way to engage in friendly competition! Employees can use an activity tracker (like the Jawbone UP or a Fitbit), an app (try Sleep Cycle) or simply self-report the number of hours they’re logging each night. Take it a step further by asking them to report on quality of sleep – and share “best practices” for getting a good snooze.
2. Switch to blue-enriched white lighting in the office.
This is a simple way to help employees stay alert during the day. Research has shown that cognition-enhancing blue light during the day improves sleep at night. And there are other advantages as well, like improved mood, concentration and productivity.
3. Start a morning walking group.
It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but studies show that a 30-minute walk in morning light is one of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep. Turns out that the light helps regulate the body clock and releases mood-boosting serotonin, making for happier, well-rested employees.
4. Limit work hours.
Employees want to do their best work and get great results for the company – so they often stay connected to the office outside typical operating hours. Unfortunately, this comes at the expense of sufficient sleep. Set policies that prohibit working after a certain time, even if that means shutting down email servers, like Volkswagen did. This is especially critical for people whose jobs impact public safety – like medical personnel, truck drivers and airline pilots.
Read the Series
Read the full series to learn tips on how you can help your employees lose weight, have more energy, be more proactive and more.