In the not-so-distant past, sleep was merely an afterthought for companies and their employees. It was something people did at the end of the day, that could easily be pushed or foreshortened to finish the day’s business.
The common delusion was that a company is better off with workers who sleep less and work more. The phrase, “sleep is for the weak” echoed across corporate America for decades, and it wasn’t until the last few years that this concept has been flipped on its head. Numerous research studies have brought to light the negative effects poor sleep on performance, cognition, mental health, and overall wellness. However, with such a deep-rooted delusional concept of sleep being a “waste of time” in American business, it’s no surprise that the country as a whole has become more sleep deprived with every generation.
Now, many companies have read the proverbial “research on the bedroom wall” and are taking innovative steps to place sleep and rest front and center in their business strategy to work smarter hours, not longer ones. In order to combat the growing fatigued employee population, companies are framing sleep as something more than an afterthought by incorporating sleep health solutions into existing wellness platforms. As a result, companies are actively promoting better health within their workforces while improving productivity and performance altogether.
Highlighted below are 3 ways that sleep health solutions aim to enhance company benefits as well as add an additional layer of support to existing wellness programs.
I. Sleep Helps Drive Down Healthcare Costs
When individuals get the daily recommended amount of sleep, their risk for developing chronic diseases diminish. According to the CDC, managing your sleep is a proven way to improve many common symptoms and problems associated with chronic diseases as well as everyday health concerns like colds and flus. Companies that already invest in wellness to improve health and vitality find sleep health programming a great way to help drive down healthcare costs associated with chronic diseases often perpetuated by the lack of sleep. In fact, companies that have implemented sleep solutions have shown a reduction in their annual healthcare costs by approximately 23 percent. Because sleep so closely correlates with physical and mental health and well-being, the better individuals sleep, the better they feel.
II. Enhanced Employee Engagement Boosts Productivity and Talent Retention
A burden that many carry throughout their day is work-life stress. Stress is a factor that often interferes with the quality and quantity of sleep a person gets on a regular basis, leading to persistent fatigue. Sleep loss has a direct effect on an individual’s daily performance, productivity, and overall cognitive abilities. In many sleep-deprived workers, sleep loss leads to a spiral of fatigue, decreased resilience to daily stress, which in turn perpetuates stress-related impairment of sleep quality and quantity. Companies that recognize the importance of sleep on performance and productivity can help break this cycle by promoting and encouraging employees to prioritize sleep. One way to do this is by implementing sleep health resources alongside other proactive wellness measures like diet and exercise. Employees who sleep better and who are encouraged to take charge of their sleep health are more productive. This has a documented improvement in the retention of key talent, quality of life scores, and overall happiness associated with a better work-life balance.
III. Sleep is a Benefit For All
Research has shown that sleep improves the overall health of every person because it is a natural restorative activity. As people sleep, their bodies undergo repair. Maintaining regular, healthy sleep patterns can act as a preventive measure for those not currently experiencing any issues. It is exceptionally beneficial for individuals diagnosed with certain chronic diseases like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. All this is true whether you’re the CEO or an intern – each and every person in a company needs sleep to maintain not only cognitive function, but general good health. So like health insurance or vacation policies, an entire workforce can benefit from sleep management programs.
Dr. Jeffrey Durmer is a sleep physician, neuroscientist and co-founder of sleep management company FusionHealth.