Sleep disorders and your workplace
How work stressors lead to serious sleep issues
How much sleep are you getting? As our working lives seem to get busier and busier in the global economy, what effect is this having on our personal lives? Is your workplace designing work so that employees have adequate sleep to prevent burnout and poor productivity?
Let’s look to the numbers first before we suggest ways to tackle your sleep-deprived employees.
A 2017 Deloitte study, commissioned by the Sleep Health Foundation to estimate the cost of sleep disorders, found that costs associated with sleep disorders in Australia is estimated at $66.3 billion per year.
This same study comments that:
Sleep disorders impose a burden that extends beyond health care system and broader economic costs. A person living with a sleep disorder will likely experience a lower quality of life through increased morbidity, and may die prematurely e.g. from a motor vehicle accident.
Similarly, a US study2 has estimated the cost of insomnia in the workforce at $2280 per year per person. In an article discussing the study, it was commented that it’s difficult to find a condition that has greater effect on productivity. In other words, employees without adequate levels of sleep and rest will never perform at optimal efficiency, regardless of other factors.
Sleep deficit – a TED Talk case study
We know that lack of sleep is probably not a good thing, but what about longer term sleep deficit? In this TED Talk3, Huffington Post co-founder Ariana Huffington talks about her personal experience with sleep deficit and the workplace injury she sustained because of it.
What is being done to tackle this problem?
In Australia, some work has been done within the sleep deficit space. Priority interventions include the following:
- Awareness raising and education – for community, health professionals and public policy makers, regarding the importance of good sleep hygiene and how to achieve better sleep outcomes.
- Research and development – areas of further research identified.
- Cost-effective prevention, treatment and management options. These may be cost effective treatment options for obstructive sleep apnoea including ‘continuous positive airway pressure’
Furthermore, World Sleep Day was established on 18 March 2008 and is an annual celebration of sleep and a call to action highlighting important sleep disorders.
What can you do?
- Physical exercise is considered an effective approach to improve sleep
- Reduce caffeine intake, especially after 12pm
- Switch off your devices and avoid looking at computer screens (including mobile devices) a few hours before you plan to go to bed
- Speak with your health professional about sleep apnea and related issues
- Aim for 6-8 hours of sleep per night
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