by Hannah Robinson
The hard truth is this: workers are chronically overworked while sleeping less and less. While the National Sleep Foundation urges the average working adult to receive 7-9 hours of sleep each night, nearly 35% of employed Americans reported sleeping less than 6 hours during their off hours. This sleep deprivation comes with hefty prices for fatigued workers and puzzled employers alike: 20% of car accidents are committed by drowsy drivers and continuing to work in this state is linked to a higher chance of obesity, heart disease, and dementia.
Aside from the serious health detriments, this epidemic is costing employers billions of dollars annually in lost productivity. A recent study of US workers revealed that 38% of workers experience serious fatigue, and over 65% of those workers relayed that they were unable to produce optimal work during that time.
However, do not fear! You can invest in higher productivity without sacrificing the health of your employees. There are costs that can be avoided by guaranteeing that your workers are well-rested and ready to work. Workers are the foundation crucial for your company's overall success—and neglecting their mental and physical health is akin to strangling your company before it’s had a chance to flourish. Carefully curated solutions will increase morale and reduce finicky turnover.
Let's Dive Deeper: Just How is Fatigue Affecting Job Performance?
When the brain is overworked, both physical and mental reaction time is shortened, literally making it hard to think clearly. Focus becomes muddled as the brain takes "micro-sleeps", which are momentary lapses in concentration that can last up to 15 seconds. And because this is a consequence of a systemic issue, habits like missing a phone call or zoning out in the middle of a meeting add up, causing the company significant amounts of money.
Lauren Roberson, Head of Nurse Advocacy for CHC has this to say: “When we look at specific employee groups such as shift-workers, reaching the essential 6 to 8 hours of sleep nightly can often be problematic. And unfortunately, lack of sleep has been proven to increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and dementia, which are all very costly for an employer.”
After outlining exactly how this problem affects workers, Roberson goes on to offer a solution. “This is what makes preventative maintenance a key component to managing outcomes, and getting adequate sleep can be essential in reducing those medical risks,” Roberson proffers, “Employers should select solution partners who can work with these groups on establishing a consistent sleep routine, techniques to reduce stress, and dietary restrictions prior to bed. Consider adding clinical support to your plan offerings, because while employees may not openly share these concerns openly with their employer, there is a much higher likelihood of them confiding in and listening to a clinical expert.”
Another aspect of this issue has been brought to light by the Covid-19 pandemic. Workers need psychological detachment from work during their off-time in order to process work stress and the emotions that come with it. When workers carry unresolved negative emotion, not only is their motivation to continue working lessened, but they tend to be more irritable and vulnerable to new negativity. Workers can become emotionally reactive, which disrupts the work environment and can cause the cycle to be repeated in other employees. Covid-19 prevented many workers from being able to achieve a sustainable work-life balance and the problem won’t just go away when the sickness does.
Sleep Studies: A Promising New Way to Provide for your Employees
Now that you know that it is vital that employees are receiving consistent, quality sleep, it is time to explore solutions. One leading cause of sleep deprivation is “obstructive sleep apnea”, which is when the throat muscles relax and cause a narrowed airway that interrupts breathing during sleep. Nearly 1 in 4 men and 1 in 10 women experience sleep apnea. And although this has been associated in the past with age and weight, it can affect everyone. If your employees experience disrupted sleep, or are told they snore, snort, or gasp during the night, an at-home sleep study may be appropriate.
A sleep study provides an easy, cost-effective, thorough assessment of sleep issues. While a sleep apnea test only analyzes breathing patterns, oxygen levels, and breathing effort, a sleep study is performed by a respiratory therapist at a laboratory and monitors brain activity, muscle tone, and leg movements during sleep. Groups such as Connect DME offer the option of a sleep study conducted in an employee's own home to avoid the hassle of sleeping overnight in a hospital. Results are interpreted by a Board Certified Sleep Physician for an accurate analysis of sleep cycles.
Connect DME employs the ResMed ApneaLink Air device to conduct the at-home sleep test. The device is easy to set up and collects sleep data to be sent to a clinician. In the case of a diagnosis, they can connect you to options to treat conditions and relieve employees of symptoms.
The Bottom Line
Boosting productivity and ensuring the well-being of your employees does not have to be a trade-off. The instinct to have employees work harder to make up for lost productivity is a vicious, unsustainable cycle. Utilizing sleep studies can ensure that employees maintain ideal physical and mental health, which will help eliminate lessened productivity. Through the Granite List, you have options at your disposal that help you make solid investments in your employees. We won't lie: there are so many factors to think about when it comes to the delicate balances your employees have to maintain. However, you can still take simple, effective steps to improve the health of your company that pays for themselves. And, let's be honest, isn't that the dream?
To search and source solutions like the ones mentioned in this article, visit The Granite List at www.thegranitelist.com