Companies are always looking to improve the quality of life of their employees by using a variety of incentives. To this end, employers are increasingly open to making a number of quality of life allowances, from dogs in the workplace to catering healthier lunchtime meals.
This isn't solely done for the purpose of improving morale and well-being. Employers have noted a strong correlation between employee health and their productivity at work. But can employers start encouraging healthy employee habits outside of their 9-5 purview?
One area of focus for company wellness has been the sleep habits of their employees and how subtle tweaks can have a profound impact on employee productivity.
Sleep Is Important!
Getting a good night's sleep has been shown to improve a person's physical and mental performance the very next day. Conversely, getting a poor night's rest can actually make your body feel like it's jet lagged and your brain feel like it's hung over.
One of the easiest ways to improve sleep quality is to keep to a regular sleep schedule. To help people get to bed at an early and regular time, many apps have been released for both Android and iOS devices, as well as wearable hardware such as the Jawbone Up and the Fitbit. These various technological tools allow users to chart their well-being versus their sleep hours to help them make informed decisions about getting a good night’s rest. Furthermore, many of these tools implement alarms to help prompt users both when it’s time to wind down for the night and when it’s the optimal time to wake up.
Wearable technology manufacturer Fitbit has promoted its wristband appliance as a non-intrusive way to improve sleep hygiene. Of particular interest to human resources managers is that Fitbit has a trove of data on their users from which to draw conclusions.
For example, they can show a positive correlation between those who average at least seven hours of sleep per day and their ability to maintain a healthy body mass index. A healthy body mass index has typically been associated with less sickness and missed employee days.
The Fitbit is not just a hardware device but also software that runs on your smartphone. This software allows people to track their sleep time and set up reminders. For example, Fitbit users can set both bedtime and morning wake-up reminders based on their desired number of sleep hours per night. The Fitbit software helps keep users on track by sending push notifications as the desired sleep time approaches and can silently vibrate in the morning to function as an alarm. To see how well users stick to their schedules, the Fitbit can show a user their sleep history so that they can perform further analysis.
Improving Employee Sleep Habits
Companies are starting to recognize the importance of a good night's rest on workplace productivity. Aetna has even offered to pay its employees to get them to sleep more than 7 hours per night. Although you might not be in a position to bribe your employees to sleep better, here are some practical tips you can share with your employees to help them get a good night’s rest.
- Assess your sleeping environment. Making your sleeping room as dark and as quiet as possible is important for getting and staying asleep. For those who can't drown out all the extraneous outside noises, a white noise machine or the simple use of earplugs can help. To help make your room as dark as possible, consider using blackout curtains to dampen any outside lights.
- If you watch TV late at night, consider using tinted sunglasses. This will help prevent the artificial light from throwing off your internal circadian system. Artificial light can suppress melatonin levels, which will make it harder for you to get to sleep.
- If you do get a poor night of rest, be a trooper and stay up until your regular sleep time the next night. Although you'll be tempted to take a long nap or go to bed early, doing so might throw off your sleep timing. You can use exercise or caffeine in an attempt to keep you up throughout the next day, even when you haven't had enough sleep.
- Don't eat in the middle of the night if you're having trouble getting to sleep. Eating late at night (or early in the AM hours) puts stress on the body precisely when it's expecting to shut down for the night. It's also a bad habit that can unwittingly nurture the incentive to stay up late for the chance of a food reward.
If you'd like to find out more on how we can help your workforce, please contact us today.