Focus on sleep to boost your company’s performance
The benefits of quality sleep affect every profession, whether someone drives a forklift, writes code, or is CEO. Progressive business leaders like Arianna Huffington and Jeff Bezos speak of how sleep deprivation affects workplace productivity, personal health, and the global economy. And top performers in business, media, sport, and other highly competitive industries all use healthy sleep habits to give themselves an edge.
A lack of sleep can impair cognitive function and negatively affect your mood. In a survey conducted by the Harvard Business Review of over 180 business leaders, 43% of participants reported not getting enough sleep most nights of the week. Repeated sleep deficits can undercut decision-making, collaboration skills, and empathy among leaders, potentially compromising both individual and company performance..
Poor sleep can be costly
A recent study is among the first to quantify economic losses due to a lack of sleep. This study found that sleep deprivation among the workforce cost US businesses $411 billion per year, and about 1.2 million days of lost work annually.
There are also healthcare costs to consider. Based on data from the National Science Foundation, a single employee with a sleep disorder such as sleep apnea can cost an employer more than $3,000 a year in excess health care costs. Nearly 54 million Americans are estimated to have sleep apnea, yet a whopping 85% of them remain undiagnosed.
An employee suffering from a sleep disorder can be physically in the office, but not as productive and alert as they should be. Being in this state for more than 10 full days of work over the course of an entire year can cost an employer $2,000 or more in excess health care fees.
Monetary loss aside, the human toll from a lack of proper sleep and sleep-related disorders have been linked to a number of catastrophic workplace accidents, including the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill. There are a number of other workplace incidents that aren’t splashed across headlines, like crashed trucks and buses, that can also devastate a company.
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Leadership and sleep
A separate survey of 81 organizations reported that four types of leadership behavior are frequently associated with top executive teams. It’s worth noting that sleep is indistinguishably linked to each of them. These qualities are:
- Operating in a results-driven way. Sleep deprivation limits someone’s ability to stay focused. After being awake for approximately 17-19 hours in a row, individual performance drops, mimicking the effects of someone driving under the influence.
- Solving problems effectively.Insight, pattern recognition, creativity and innovation all plummet under a lack of sleep. Research has shown that creative thinking is linked to sleep stages where dreams occur.
- Seeking different perspectives. Sleep enables the brain to think critically and weigh all viable options. Many scientific studies underscore sleep’s influence on all three stages of the learning process, which are critical to the ability to process different perspectives.
- Being supportive.Being present, alert, and engaged with those you manage is tough to do in a sleep-deprived state. When you’re operating in a sleep deficit, there is also a higher likelihood to misrepresent social cues and facial expressions.
Take a proactive approach to sleep health at your company
LinkedIn’s wellness initiatives and its particular emphasis on sleep is a best-in-class example that initially started out as a tool for recruitment. However, it brought along with it a surprising and welcome result: 75% of LinkedIn employees reported feeling more loyal to the company because of the program.
At any company, a culture that values sleep often comes from the top. Consider sharing your concerns and the supporting data with leaders at your company. You might be able to kickstart a company-wide initiative that values productivity, employee health, and sleep.
If you are an HR professional looking to add sleep health to your company health & wellness initiatives, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about Beddr’s Employer Program.
Marc Biondolillo is passionate about finding ways that technology can help improve health care outcomes. He has 15 years of experience across the tech and health sectors at companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Intuit, and NerdWallet. He holds an MBA from University of California, Berkeley and a BA from University of California, San Diego.