In this post, we take a look at how implementing flexible work hours and allowing more time for sleep, will benefit your team. As well as how the current trends in workplace performance and a resulting lack of sleep are problematic for productivity as highlighted in Matthew Walker’s book, ‘Why We Sleep’.
High on the recommended list of books to read in 2020 is Walker’s “Why We Sleep”. In it, the neuroscientist and sleep researcher outlines the importance of sleep for our health and wellbeing. It is a wonder that science is just touching the edge on research about the activity we spend most of our time doing. Thankfully, Walker, a professor of neuroscience and psychology and the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley has paved a path to change the way society and the workplace regards sleep.
Current company culture praises the employees who are last out of the office and first in the doors in the morning, having only slept for 5 hours, reliant on vigorous exercise and strong coffee in hand. It’s problematic that in most of society we overvalue employees who undervalue sleep. Walker says that there exists an arrogance in company culture with regards to the way that sleep is viewed as useless. Considering that most businesses are very sensibly focused on all other elements of employee health, safety and conduct. Policies exist around smoking, substance abuse, ethical behaviour, yet policies don’t exist to protect employees from having insufficient sleep. Many business leaders believe that the amount of time spent on a task equates to productivity but this is not true.
Quality sleep promotes productivity. A study found that a loss of productivity caused by insufficient sleep resulted in economic losses of up to $411 billion a year in the United States. Employees lacking in sleep have a longer work rate and take longer to perform tasks. They’re less likely to come up with effective solutions to solve tasks that they are challenged with. Let’s take a look at how you can encourage better sleep health among your employees.
Night owls are some of the most sleep-deprived individuals on the planet. Night owls don’t choose their biological clocks, their natural circadian rhythm is in their genes. They, unfortunately, lost in the modern time lottery as most working hours across the globe were standardised to be between 8am and 5pm. Flexible working hours may change the lives of night owls by allowing them to work at their most productive hours of the day. Allowing flexible start and end times will also allow the early birds to get home before they hit a late afternoon slump.
One of the most advantageous factors of sleep is its effect on our memory. In numerous studies looking at the effect of sleep on learning, sleep has proved as a memory aid. This applies to sleep both before, in preparation of absorbing knowledge and after learning, solidifying the memory and preventing forgetfulness. Sleep is perhaps the best treatment for preserving our memory. New research shows that there’s a clear association between sleep disruption and Alzheimer’s disease.
Technology and LED lighting are causing us to absorb far more blue light than our bodies need. Installing light filters can help to regulate the amount of blue light your employees are exposed to. Invest in apps that help your staff to sleep better at night by automatically adjusting their screens from day to night mode. Discourage employees from being on their devices 3 hours before bedtime to reduce their exposure to blue light.
Your staff may not prioritise good sleep. Start holding workshops to inform your staff about healthy sleep habits. It’s recommended that adults should get at least 7-9 hours of sleep every night. A good mattress, the right curtains and the temperature also have a big impact on the ability to fall asleep and remain asleep.
Considering that individuals who are sleep deprived are likely to consume more calories, cause accidents while driving and be less effective at their jobs, these individuals should not be glorified or made to feel a sense of achievement. In fact, we should be praising employees who value their sleep as they arrive at work more alert and are more productive. They also have a lower mortality, Alzheimers and cancer risk. All-round sleep promotes a healthy, more productive workplace.
Companies like Crazy Inc, based in Japan, are giving their employees incentives for getting more than 6 hours of sleep a night. Teams are rewarded with a point-based system if they maintain adequate sleep at least 5 days of the week. The points can be exchanged at the company’s cafeteria worth nearly £430 per year.