Restful Sleep is Not a Luxury for Employees or for You

Employee performance and productivity is something we all think about as we try to improve profitability while containing costs. What most of us don’t think about however, is how much poor sleep may be hindering these efforts. We spend one third of our lives sleeping and yes, this simple daily act may actually be the most important aspect of an individual’s personal health, well-being and productivity. Poor sleep can cause or worsen a number of serious health problems and chronic illnesses, and, when left untreated, it can even kill you. But if employers make sleep health a priority in the workplace, they are finding they’re able to impact their employees’ performance, productivity and safety. This employee wellness initiative is actually going to be the focus of an upcoming webinar.

Restful sleep is absolutely necessary for optimal employee performance and overall health. In fact, recent neuroscience studies have shown that restful sleep is the single most important factor in maintaining a healthy brain and body as we get older. When we don’t get the recommended amount of restful sleep, our physical capabilities deteriorate, and our heart, brain and immune system become threatened.

Fifty percent of all employees are currently living with some type of sleep disorder that is causing them to feel fatigued at the workplace and in their personal lives. In fact, 90 percent of employers report being negatively affected by employee fatigue, but very little is being done to address the issue. Lack of understanding of the situation is mostly to blame for the apathy toward treatment, both for employers and employees. When the issues surrounding poor sleep aren’t understood, it’s easy for employers to brush off the idea of spending money on another addition to their wellness program. And for employees, while they recognize they’re tired, they often are unable to connect the dots between their poor sleep and their poor performance.

As the issue of sleep health is ignored, fatigued employees are causing a whole host of problems for employers:

  • 47% of employers to report decreased productivity due to fatigue
  • 50% of employers to report an employee falling asleep on the job
  • 57% of employers to report absenteeism due to fatigue
  • 32% of employers to report injuries and near misses due to fatigue

Individuals should receive at least seven hours of restful and continuous sleep every night to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, 35 percent of adults report getting less than that. In just the United States, more than 50 million people are suffering from more than 80 different sleep disorders each day, including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Another 20–30 million people suffer through the consequences of intermittent sleep problems. All of this can all add up to serious health problems for employees.

When employee sleep health is poor, so is their physical health. They often miss work, and when they aren’t absent, they suffer from what is identified as presenteeism. Presenteeism is defined as employees being on the job but, because of fatigue, illness or other medical conditions, not fully functioning. So, although they are sitting at their desk, their focus isn’t really on work resulting in a drastic drop in their performance/productivity. A year-long telephone survey of 29,000 working adults dubbed the “American Productivity Audit” calculated the cost of presenteeism in the U.S. to be more than $150 billion a year. Most studies confirm that presenteeism is far more costly than illness-related absenteeism or disability.

Yes. When a company offers a program that teaches and empowers employees on how to improve their sleep. Those employees can improve their alertness, focus, and overall health. Once employees prioritize their sleep, they can start sleeping better, feeling better, and living better. And for companies, that means better employee performance, increased productivity, and a healthier bottom line.


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