min read
March 10, 2024

Sleep-deprived workforce? Boost productivity with better rest

Discover the high business costs of sleepless employees and get 5 key strategies for better sleep support.

Imagine a workforce with laser-sharp focus, increased productivity, and the mental clarity to tackle challenges. That's the power of well-rested employees. A good night's sleep enhances performance, while sleep deprivation leaves employees struggling to function and hinders their ability to contribute effectively.

Employee sleep is a critical business issue. Insomnia alone costs businesses thousands of dollars per employee in healthcare and lost productivity. But the problem extends far beyond diagnosed cases. Many additional workers struggle with sleep deprivation, with over a third of American adults simply not getting enough rest. This widespread fatigue has a staggering economic impact, costing businesses an estimated $136 billion annually in lost productivity.

The hidden costs of sleep-deprived employees

Anyone who has tried to work after an all-nighter knows the consequences of sleep deprivation. It seriously impairs cognitive function, hindering focus, judgment, and memory.  "It's the leading cause of accidents in the United States," says Dr. Andrew Krystal, a renowned expert on sleep and mood disorders. This has serious consequences: Employees struggling with insomnia face a seven times greater risk of being involved in workplace accidents.

But sleep deprivation doesn't just hurt work performance. It also has far-reaching health consequences that fuel a cycle of unproductivity, sick days, and higher healthcare costs for employers. Insomnia significantly increases the risk of chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. It's also linked to mental health concerns like anxiety and depression. These interconnected factors can lead to a downward spiral in health and productivity.

There is hope, however. While sleep problems might seem deeply personal, driven by individual habits and genetics, the truth is that employers can make a significant difference in helping employees get better rest. By promoting healthy sleep habits, employers can play a critical role in boosting employee well-being and performance. Here's a list of highly actionable tips you can implement right away:

Five workplace strategies to enhance sleep

  1. Flexible, but regular, work schedules: People naturally have different sleep preferences: Some are night owls, others early birds. These variations stem from individual differences in sleep needs, genetics, and age. Where possible, offering flexible start and end times accommodates these patterns, allowing employees to work during their most productive hours. Maintaining a consistent schedule is also important, as it helps employees establish regular sleep patterns and optimize their focus and energy levels.
  1. Optimized work environments: Promote alertness by ensuring bright, natural-toned lighting during work hours. Additionally, support short breaks for mindfulness, light exercise, or even just stepping outdoors for sunlight exposure. These adjustments help regulate employees' circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep patterns and improved daytime function.
  1. Work-life balance and boundaries: Emphasize the importance of disconnecting from work for mental rest. Actively combat a culture of overwork by discouraging late-night emails that disrupt employee sleep. Managers should model healthy behavior by clearly communicating expectations around work-life balance.
  1. Designated nap rooms (if possible): Short naps can significantly enhance alertness, focus, memory, and decision-making, while also reducing stress for a more positive mindset. While napping isn't for everyone, providing the option can demonstrate support for employee well-being. Designating a quiet, dark space specifically for naps can be surprisingly effective in boosting alertness.
  1. Access to clinical care: Clinically validated digital treatments like Sleepio offer proven tools to combat insomnia and improve overall sleep habits.  Additionally, providing access to sleep specialists can be incredibly valuable for employees with more complex sleep issues.

While individuals ultimately control their sleep, employers can play a crucial supporting role. When employees have good sleep health, they’re able to stay healthier — both physically and mentally — avoid accidents, and have stronger, more enjoyable careers. Taking care of people is job number one for HR and benefits leaders, but committing to doing so is also good for business.

Sleepio, our digital sleep improvement program, offers a proven solution. Request a demo for Sleepio today and see the difference quality sleep can make in your organization.

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, Sleepio is temporarily being made available as a treatment for insomnia disorder without a prescription. Sleepio has not been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of insomnia disorder.

DOC-3541 Effective 03/2024

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During the COVID-19 public health emergency, Sleepio and Daylight are being made available as treatments for insomnia disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), respectively, without a prescription. Sleepio and Daylight have not been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of insomnia disorder and GAD, respectively.

1. Qaseem, A., Kansagara, D., Forciea, M. A., Cooke, M., & Denberg, T. D. (2016). Management of chronic insomnia disorder in adults: a clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 165(2), 125-133.2. Riemann, D., Baglioni, C., Bassetti, C., Bjorvatn, B., Dolenc Groselj, L., Ellis, J. G., … & Spiegelhalder, K. (2017). European guideline for the diagnosis and treatment of insomnia. Journal of Sleep Research, 26(6), 675-700.3. Wilson, S., Anderson, K., Baldwin, D., Dijk, D. J., Espie, A., Espie, C., … & Sharpley, A. (2019). British Association for Psychopharmacology consensus statement on evidence-based treatment of insomnia, parasomnias and circadian rhythm disorders: an update. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 33(8), 923-947.4. King’s Technology Evaluation Centre. (2017, November 9). Overview: Health app: SLEEPIO for adults with poor Sleep: Advice. NICE. Espie, C. A., Kyle, S. D., Williams, C., Ong, J. C., Douglas, N. J., Hames, P., & Brown, J. S. (2012). A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of online cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic insomnia disorder delivered via an automated media-rich web application. Sleep, 35(6), 769-781.6. Carl, J. R., Miller, C. B., Henry, A. L., Davis, M. L., Stott, R., Smits, J. A., … & Espie, C. A. (2020). Efficacy of digital cognitive behavioral therapy for moderate‐to‐severe symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized controlled trial. Depression and Anxiety, 37(12), 1168-1178.

DOC-3046 Effective 11/2023