Sleep and the Workplace: An Ultimate Guide

sleep workplace

According to the National Institutes of Health, 1 in 3 Americans does not get enough sleep. This can lead to significant health issues as well as problems with workplace performance.

Sleep Recommendations

Adults age 18 and up should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. For those who have trouble doing that, the CDC has some recommendations:

  • Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.
  • Make sure your sleep area is dark, quiet, a comfortable temperature, and set it up in a way that feels peaceful and relaxing.
  • Ditch your phone, computer, laptop, and television.
  • Don’t eat too close to your bedtime, and avoid alcohol and caffeine.
  • Get some exercise during the day.

Common Causes of Sleep Problems

There are a number of causes for sleep problems. Some of the most common include:

  • Stress
  • Pain
  • Reactions to food eaten
  • Lack of exercise
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Irregular sleep patterns

Sleep and Chronic Disease

Lack of sleep is also linked to chronic diseases, including:

  • Diabetes
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Obesity
  • Depression

Sleep and the Workplace

Thanks to globalization, technology and remote working, it’s gotten harder to set work-life boundaries. Many of us are always “on,” which reduces our ability to relax and get enough sleep by adhering to consistent sleep habits.

Lack of sleep makes it harder to focus and easier to forget things. The National Library of Medicine has found that employees lacking quality sleep cost employers an average of $2,280 each more per year compared to well-rested employees. These costs are due to absenteeism, presenteeism, reduced performance, and increased accidents and injuries. Total direct and indirect costs to the American economy are estimated at $30-$40 billion annually.

How Employers Can Promote Good Sleep Habits

Employers can promote good sleep habits in a variety of ways, starting with the office environment.

Workplace Environment

  • Natural light – Exposure to natural light (as opposed to artificial light) in the workplace can help promote good sleep at home
  • Policies – Limit or disable employees’ ability to send/receive emails, participate in video conferencing, etc. during their “off” hours on evenings and weekends.
  • Education – Using tools ranging from questionnaires to online tutorials, provide information to employees that helps them understand and improve sleep habits.
  • Incentives – Aetna implemented a program to pay their employees to get good sleep, resulting in measurably improved worker productivity.

Access to Health Insurance

Whether you sponsor a group plan or help your employees acquire marketplace coverage, access to health insurance helps employees take care of their overall health. This can have a major positive impact on good sleep habits.

Employee Assistance Programs

Does your benefits package include an EAP? Employees battling stress or anxiety often have significant sleep problems. Access to an EAP can provide them with the help they need.

Flexible Spending Account/Health Savings Account

You may offer a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or Health Savings Account (HSA). Employees with either can use these benefit accounts for helpful products and services to assist their sleep. From sleep aids and pain relievers to adhesive strips and nasal dilators, many over-the-counter (OTC) options are available.

Sleep apnea testing, CPAP machines, and supplies are also eligible for FSA/HSA funds.

Lifestyle Spending Account

Some people with sleep problems find relief with aromatherapy, using a particular type of pillow, snuggling under a weighted blanket, or other remedies. These are usually not eligible for FSA/HSA accounts, except in some cases with a letter of medical necessity. However, they can be made eligible for an employer-sponsored Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA).

In Conclusion

Those who have chronic problems getting enough hours of good sleep can experience health effects and poor performance and productivity in their work life. Employers can help promote quality sleep through making certain changes in the workplace environment and educating employees on good sleep habits. Employer-sponsored benefits including access to health insurance, EAPs, FSAs, HSAs, and Lifestyle Spending Accounts can also help.

For 40 years, DataPath has been a pivotal force in the employee benefits, financial services, and insurance industries. The company’s flagship DataPath Summit platform offers an integrated solution for managing CDH, HSA, Well-Being, COBRA, and Billing. Through its partnership with Accelergent Growth Solutions, DataPath also offers expert BPO services, automation, outsourced customer service, and award-winning marketing services.

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