“Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer. It enhances your memory, makes you more attractive. It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings. It protects you from cancer and dementia. It wards off colds and flu. It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes. You’ll even feel happier, less depressed, and less anxious. Are you interested?”
Ladies and gentlemen, we introduce to you…sleep.
The above excerpt is from the book Why We Sleep by neuroscientist and author, Matthew Walker. While many of us try to avoid our essential need to sleep by sneaking in another hour of work late in the evening or one last scroll of our Facebook feed as we lay in bed, the fact is that sleep affects our mind and body in every possible way.
In this particular article, we’re going to look at how sleep, or more specifically a lack thereof, affects our productivity at work.
The Magic Number of Hours Needed
With regards to how much sleep we need, the optimal number of hours for adults under 65 years of age is said to be between 7 and 9 hours per night. However, most employees today sleep less, leading to side-effects, including insomnia. In fact, according to the National Sleep Foundation’s inaugural Sleep Health Index™, 45% of Americans say that poor or insufficient sleep affected their daily activities at least once in the past seven days.
Why Is Sleep Important?
As shared on Healthline, sleep is vital for various brain functions, including cognition, concentration, productivity and performance. Among its many benefits, sleep has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance memory performance.
A lack of sleep, on the other hand, negatively impacts employee performance at work in every way, including impaired concentration, inability to focus, reduced productivity and decreased ability to problem solve. Additionally, a lack of sleep often leads to procrastination, grumpiness (which affects colleagues and the work environment), and poor eating choices.
The Impact on Business
Research company StayWell conducted a study that found that employees getting less than five hours of sleep each night generally marked an average of 1.5 times more days absent and 1.9 times as much productivity loss as employees who reported eight hours of sleep per night. Additionally, employees who reported “almost always” feeling tired during the day averaged 2.7 times more days absent and 4.4 times more productivity loss than employees who reported “almost never” feeling tired.
Sleep deprivation can have an enormous chain reaction on business resulting in missed deadlines and targets as well as increased sick days and absenteeism through poor mental and physical health.
Harvard Medical School conducted a study on sleep deprivation and work productivity and found that insomnia costs the average work 11.3 days, or $2,280, in lost productivity every year.
Supporting Employee Health
As reported in a Forbes article, thankfully, there is a growing awareness of the health implications of sleep deprivation, which is prompting companies to take action.
The article shares that Goldman Sachs have brought in sleep experts to their workplace and Johnson and Johnson are offering their employees a digital health coaching program for battling insomnia.
What benefits can you, as an employer, offer your employees to help support their health and wellbeing?
Want to discover which benefits employees want and which benefits are most popular among different generations? Download our Employee Benefits Report.