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Good sleep is good for business: the impact of rest on employee performance

Lack of sleep is a hidden threat to businesses, silently eroding productivity, causing poor customer service and decreasing workplace morale while increasing errors, accidents, and absenteeism. These lead to major health costs. It’s estimated that insufficient sleep costs the U.S. economy approximately $411 billion a year.

Recent world events and the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated America’s sleep problem. Before the pandemic, approximately 30 to 35% of the population experienced acute or short-term insomnia – that is difficulty going to sleep, staying asleep, or waking too early. Today, two out of three Americans are experiencing too little and/or poor quality of sleep.

Sleep and productivity

Research has shown that lack of sleep has the same effect on the brain as too much alcohol, affecting:

  • Speech
  • Motor functions
  • Levels of aggression and impulsiveness
  • Memory
  • Decision-making and problem-solving
  • Concentration
  • Judgement
  • Communication
  • Learning new tasks

Sleep and health

Research shows that over time, lack of sleep can have dramatic consequences for both physical and mental health – and organizational health costs. These include:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease and hypertension
  • Immune function
  • Depression and anxiety

Managing sleep

To maintain a competitive edge, organizations need to encourage their workforce to get good sleep. This can be achieved through three steps:

  1. Encourage people (including managers) find ways to fully and regularly disconnect, and seek solutions to high workload or other barriers to a sustainable work-life balance.
  2. Provide information on the importance of sleep. A comprehensive Employee Assistance Program (EAP) like the one offered by LifeWorks can provide a library of easy to access articlesonline seminars and other educational resources to better manage sleep and stress.
  3. Offer support in resolving sleep issues. For instance, LifeWorks can help with personalized coaching and other tools that can:
    • Help improve sleep
    • Mitigate the effects of sleep deficiency
    • Examine sleep habits, identify personal obstacles to restful sleep
    • Set achievable objectives for lasting behavior change

Ensuring employees get enough sleep isn’t just about improving workforce health and wellness – it’s about improving organizational productivity and efficiency. Good sleep is simply good for business.

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