As an employer, there are many things you can do to help ensure your staff are working to their full potential. Whether it’s employee perks, free fruit or a comfortable working environment, you can often have a big influence on the motivation and positivity of your team. One thing you can’t change however is the quality of sleep they get.
Bed and furniture specialists Time4sleep recently conducted a study, speaking to sleep experts, as well as surveying 2,000 UK residents asking how their sleeping habits affected their well-being at work. The results could help employers provide support to employees and understand how their working lives are affected by sleep.
The Effects of Poor Sleep at Work
Members of staff that complain all the time can have a damaging effect on those around them. The research from Time4Sleep suggested that lack of sleep could be what’s behind the negativity in your workforce. Of the workers asked, 49% who said they felt positive about work in the morning rated their sleep between eight and ten – only 3% of those who rated their sleep between one and three said they felt positive at work.
Following this trend, a third of those who said they felt negative about work in the morning rated their sleep below a three. As an employer, this shows that there should perhaps be some empathy shown towards those who struggle at work due to lack of sleep.
It can be difficult to keep employees motivated throughout the whole working day, and a similar trend between motivation and the amount of sleep we get was evident in the survey. 49% of those who rated their sleep between eight and ten also rated their motivation at the same level. On the other side of the coin, only 3% of those who rated their sleep between one and three said their motivation was above seven.
There’s science behind this behavior. Sleep science coach Jason Piper explained that:
Poor emotional regulation and impaired decision making might be affected by sleep. Sleep deprivation has been associated with reduced blood flow in the area of the brain responsible for attention, alertness, and cognitive processes such as self-control, emotional responses, and decision making.
Being Content in Their Careers
As an employer, it’s vitally important that your staff feel content and happy in their careers. It leads to decreased attrition rates and helps to build a positive mood in your workplace amongst other things. One factor that might influence this could be the quality of sleep they’re getting.
40% of respondents who rated their sleep between eight and ten said they were happy in their career, this is compared to 9% who rated their sleep between one and three. So, for employers and HR departments who are dealing with unsatisfied workers, asking them how well they’re sleeping could be a good starting point.
How Can You Help Employees?
Most employers probably don’t see it as their responsibility to help workers with their sleeping habits – employee’s lives outside of work are a personal thing. However, helping your staff with some tips on getting a good night’s sleep could make a huge difference in their working lives and performance. Sharing some of this guidance with your team will set you apart from other employers.
Wind Down for Bed
We’ve probably all been guilty of spending some time looking at our smartphone or tablet after lights out or watching TV in bed. However, this could be one of the worst ways to prepare for sleep. 49% of respondents who admitted to watching Netflix or TV before bed said they’re not getting at least seven hours of sleep – with 22% getting five hours or less.
It was a similar story for smartphones and tablets, with 48% of users getting less than seven hours sleep and 24% getting five hours or less. As an employer, actively encouraging your employees to stay off company emails after a certain time could make an important difference.
The survey showed that the number of pillows you use is much more than just a personal preference, suggesting that using fewer pillows is conducive to a better night’s sleep. Only 41% of respondents who use three pillows get at least seven hours sleep in a night, this is compared to 49% of those who use two pillows and 56% who use one.
Jason Piper explained this:
You should only need one. Pillows help to offset differences in your mattress. If you are needing to use multiple pillows, your mattress may be too firm which is keeping your head too far from the mattress or you’re putting your neck in an unnatural position.
Find the Right Position
Getting a good night’s sleep could well be linked with the position that you choose to sleep in. The research asked what side of the bed respondents slept on, with 36% of those who slept on the right-hand side rating their sleep as eight or more, compared to 29% on the left-hand side.
More important, however, is the position that you lay in at night. The perfect position for sleep is on your non-dominant side in a fetal position. This is an evolutionary choice, like your heart, internal organs, and reproductive organs are protected. Leaving your dominant arm free to defend yourself.
As an employer, your care for employees should go well beyond office hours. Helping your team understand their difficulties with sleep and offering advice on how to overcome them can have huge benefits for you and your business. Not only that, as an employer it’ll help you be more understanding and empathetic when your team is struggling.
About the author: Mark Wiggins is a writer from Leeds, England. With years of experience in people management, he specializes in writing about workplace motivation and staff retention.