Loss of productivity due to sleep deprivation cost the U.S. economy more than $400 billion annually. In fact, according to many experts in the fields of economics, behavioral science, and psychology, poor sleep hygiene is one of the leading causes avoidable accidents and preventable mental health issues in our country.
And if you know anything about the science of sleep deprivation then these statistics shouldn’t surprise you. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a wide number of different illnesses and negative effects including (but certainly not limited to):
- Difficulty with memory
- Impaired cognition and focus
- Weight gain
- Impaired coordination and depth perception
- Poor balance
- Depression, anxiety, and heightened levels of acute stress
- And much much more (source & source)
It should be pretty clear that sleep deprivation can have tremendously negative effects on your workforce. I know that many of you reading this were probably raised in an era where sleep was seen as weakness and taking time to rest and recover was seen as giving the competition a chance to get ahead.
But I urge you to rethink your stance. When you and your staff are properly rested, there will be fewer mistakes, greater workplace efficiency, and higher levels of happiness and performance overall. Yes, you might initially lose a little bit of productivity by shortening working hours or allowing for afternoon naps, but the studies have shown again and again that these tactics work.
Whether you are considering a company-wide sleep revolution or simply providing support systems that encourage your employees to take better care of their sleep habits, here are a few ideas that will help you and your employees get more “zzzs” and be more efficient.
1. Teach the Importance of Good Sleep to Your Employees
The first way to increase your employee’s awareness of how sleep is affecting their performance is to teach them. Host a company-wide conference where you delve into the importance of proper sleep hygenie and resting for at least 7.5 hours a night. If you own a small business and have the ability to begin your work day just 50 minutes later each day, I strongly encourage you to do so. The research has clearly shown that even just 50 extra minutes of sleep can help improve performance by up to 40%.
I also encourage you to spend some time teaching your employees how to sleep better. Sleep is a game of quality, not just quantity, and most people are clueless as to how they can improve their sleep.
Simply instructing your employees to download F.lux, a blue light blocking software on their electronic devices can help them get better sleep today.
If you aren’t a particularly sleep savvy person yourself, here are the best tips for instantly getting a better night of sleep.
- Completely black out your room (this means covering all electronics and windows)
- Turn the thermostat down to 65-67
- Go to bed before 11 p.m. if possible.
- Turn off all electronics 60 minutes before bed
- Supplement with 500 mg of Magnesium and 400 mg of L-Theanine
- Eat a high fat and low carb snack (think almond butter and celery) 3 hours before bed and stop eating by 8 p.m.
If you instruct your employees to do these few things, the sleep quality, productivity, and safety of your workplace will skyrocket seemingly overnight.
2. Institute a Company Sleep Tracking Program
This might sound a little bit odd, but the best way to quantify the impact that sleep deprivation is having on your organization is to have your employees track their sleep. Using an app like Sleep Time, have your employees begin tracking and sharing their sleep results with you each day. You can use this data to analyze your employee’s performance and quantify the difference in their productive output when they are tired vs. rested.
The reason that this step is important is that it will give you concrete data and evidence to help you see exactly how much sleep deprivation is costing your organization and what it’s worth to you to fix it.
For example, if you notice that one of your star employees performs 50% worse on days when he’s only slept 6 hours, you know that it’s well worth allowing him to come in an hour late if it means that the other 7 hours he works will be at full capacity.
3. Support Your Employee’s Sleep Journey
If you take action on the above point, then you should be able to compile a statistically significant amount of data regarding your employee’s performance as it relates to their sleep hygiene. If you know that your employees perform their tasks 30% less efficiently when they aren’t well rested, then this gives you a fiscally sound reason to start the workday later.
Once you have the data in hand, you will also have an idea of how small investments like blackout shades, better bed sheets, or a chiropractic pillow will have on your employee’s performance. The concept of purchasing “Sleep Gear” for your employees is an admittedly foreign one, but nearly every organization that has instituted some sort of conscious effort to improve the well being of their employees have seen a dramatic return on their investment.
I’m not suggesting that you go out and buy Tempurpedic mattresses for all of your employees, but finding small ways to help them care for themselves and improve their well being can pay dividends in the long run.
Few employers truly understand the importance of employee well being. Ever since the Industrial Revolution, employees have been seen as replaceable cogs in a machine, and we are starting to pay the price for this viewpoint as employee wellness and productivity plummets.
If you are serious about the safety of your employees and the long-term revenue generating abilities of your business, then you need to make employee wellness a top priority.