How Sleep Impairment Might Affect the Workplace

The competitive nature and the “always on” mentality at the workplace might be leading to fewer hours of and more disrupted sleep. On the other hand, without the time to recharge your own battery, you could be prone to behavioral issues, less cognitive ability, and heart disease. Encouraging employees to get their appropriate amount of rest and relaxation could lead to more productivity, creativity, and higher morale. 

The Negative Impacts of Impaired Sleep

Sluggishness might be an indicator of even more insidious and less-obvious side effects of sleep-deprived employees. Behavior can be linked to the quality and consistency of healthy sleep habits. When someone is not getting their night’s rest, they can be cranky. However, there could be even more serious side effects of consistently poor sleep quality.

Sleep deprivation may also contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, dementia, diabetes, and even cancer. In order to have a productive workforce, employees should feel empowered to be healthy enough to do the job. Additionally, healthy sleeping habits could be preventative and cut down on healthcare costs for your company. 

Other ill effects of impaired sleep may include the inability to learn and retain new information, which is crucial in the workplace. Plus, poor sleep has been found to contribute to unethical behavior, which could put your workplace in uncomfortable or unsafe situations. 

For all of the resources and money that companies pour into professional development and healthcare, quality sleep could be a cost-effective solution. 

Develop Healthy Sleep Habits to Help the Workplace

Quality sleep may help enhance many different aspects of the employee’s workday. When you get your 7 to 9 nine hours of sleep, which includes the necessary REM and NREM cycles, you could boost your memory, retention, and creativity. 

Here are a few methods of establishing good sleeping habits:

  • Keep natural light in the workplace. 
  • Provide meditation rooms or nap rooms
  • Reward and incentivize sleep education and practicing good sleep habits.
  • Enact technology policies that discourage emailing or computer-use after work hours. 
  • Encourage employees to connect with one another about sleep — setting goals, reminders, or sharing stories. 

Well-Rested Employees Could Lead to Better Work Culture

Sleep is not a sign of weakness, just as working late a badge of honor. Dedicating yourself to getting rest should be seen as a bigger commitment to the company than working late because it means you value your well-being and how it contributes to the health of the company. 

People in leadership positions could lead the charge and change their company’s culture to one that values its employees’ health. Here are some strategies to teach employees that could lead to better sleep quality:

  • Shut off electronics 2 hours before bedtime.
  • Don’t use electronics in the bedroom.
  • Mute all devices during the night.
  • Do not take video calls at night.
  • Invest in quality bedding and pillows.
  • Avoid the snooze button.
  • Set evening routines like bedtimes. 

If you need recommendations to employees for where they can get their dream pillow, point them to our Pillow Finder Quiz

Sources:

1. Matthew Walker, Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams (New York: Scribner/Simon & Schuster, 2017).

2. Ibid.

3. J.G. Jenkins and K. M. Dallenbach, “Obliviscence during sleep and waking,” American Journal of Psychology 35 (1924): pp. 605–12.

4. Larissa K. Barber and Christopher Budnick, “Sleep and unethical behavior,” in Julian Barling, Christopher M. Barnes, Erica Carleton, David T. Wagner, (eds.), Work and Sleep: Research Insights for the Workplace (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2016), pp. 125–146.