One of my favourite features on my Fitbit is that it enables me to track my sleep. Though sometimes a daunting figure to check, every morning I look at how well I slept the night before and, not surprisingly, the less I slept the less productive I end up being that day. Sleep is a hugely important factor of overall well-being. Think about it for a moment, if you’re tired are you as likely to hit the gym or make a healthy homemade meal? Personally, if my Fitbit registers anything under 6 hours of sleep, I know I’ll be seeing more of Raul, my pizza delivery boy, that day than my sneakers, Hal and JoAnne (yes, I named my sneakers after the Body Break duo).
When thinking about how well you sleep and how it affects your day-to-day life, we may not immediately realize how significant a good sleep is to our level of productivity. We think: “give me a coffee and I’ll power through”, but this is rarely the case. As sleepless nights turn into unproductive days, the workload you may have had no trouble handling under normal circumstances builds up and creates an added level of workplace stress. Next thing you know, this stress turns into one of the demons that keep you up at night.
It’s a seemingly vicious circle and low levels of sleep not only affect your productivity, but also affect your focus, behaviour, job satisfaction and level of innovation. If employers want to improve the health of their employees (and in turn, their fiscal bottom line) making sure they get their 7-9 hours of rest each night could be crucial. Short of instigating a company-wide naptime, here are some ways employees and employers alike can ensure a good night’s sleep.
1. Encourage employees to keep the office out of the bedroom.
Employers: Some companies are taking this one to the extreme, blocking employee work e-mails after a certain hour of the evening. Less drastically, just encourage company leaders to insist that employees put down their phones and turn off their computers after a certain time (and have them lead by example!).
Employee: Studies show that exposure to the type of light emitted by cellphones and computers impact how quickly you fall asleep, so back away from your devices at least an hour before you plan to go to sleep. Try filling that hour with a warm bath, some deep breathing, or curl up with a good book.
2. Incorporate sleep into your existing wellness program or incentives.
Employers: Provide employees with a company-wide sleep clinic that will educate them on optimal sleep practices and help them manage the full spectrum of sleep disorders they may be facing.
Employees: If you have a workplace wellness program, request that this service be provided!
3. Provide non-caffeinated options.
Employers: Deadlines and crunch times are inevitable for any business from time to time so, if your employees have to stay at work past their regular hours, try providing them with some herbal teas – peppermint, ginger and cinnamon teas have all been shown to aid in alertness.
Employees: Most people metabolize caffeine fully within 5 hours, but it may take up to a day to eliminate it from your body entirely. Try to curb your caffeine intake in the late afternoon and consume herbal teas or decaf coffee in the evening to stop your nighttime tossing and turning.
4. Create work schedules that fits with individual Circadian rhythms
This last one should be a collaborative effort between employer and employee and may not be possible for everyone. Circadian rhythms are different in every individual and they change throughout a lifetime. If possible, arrange a work schedule that works with your personal circadian rhythm. Find that you can’t fall asleep before midnight? See if your employer will let you work 10 AM – 6 PM. Enjoy going to bed early? Maybe 7 AM to 3PM is the best shift for you. Try experimenting with shift start times until employer and employee find a time frame that works best for both parties.
Remember, you’re not alone! The National Sleep Foundation reports that more than half of the working population experiences one or more symptom of insomnia at least a few nights per week – that’s huge! Recent data also shows that the annual employer costs for sleep related problems tops $60 billion – $16 billion in health care expenses and $50 billion in lost productivity. Hopefully with these tips you’ll be so good at sleeping you could do it with your eyes closed. However, if you’d like some extra help tracking your sleep Request a Demo with Sprout today
Brea Giffin is a member of the Sprout Business Development and Inbound Marketing team. She is a graduate of the Centennial College Workplace Wellness and Health Promotion program and also possesses a diploma in Holistic Nutrition and a Degree in Neuroscience from Dalhousie University. She is a self-proclaimed fish and enjoys water sports and being outdoors. She’ll split a salad with you anytime!