What’s trending now?
There’s a growing awareness that it’s important for employees to get enough sleep. Employers are seeing the need for wellness programmes that take into account how an employee sleeps and how this affects productivity. In 2016, a Mercer national survey found that 39% of US employers offered programmes tackling sleep disorders among employees, like insomnia and obstructive sleep apnoea. This is up from 32% surveyed two years prior.
Why it’s important?
Dr Joe Harbison , a specialist in sleeping disorders, says people sleep a lot less now than before, leading to a condition known as ‘sleep debt’. This results in impaired sustained concentration and impaired decision making. According to a report by the US Center for Disease Control, adults need an average of 7-8 hours of sleep daily, yet 35% of workers get fewer than 7 hours. Forbes has reported that only 29% of US millennials regularly get sufficient sleep, while 71% of Generation Zs in America say they wake up worrying about something at least three nights a week. A report by Mintel in 2017, found that 4 in 10 adults in the UK fail to achieve 7 hours of sleep per night, while 50% of Britons say they typically struggle to fall asleep. Locally, a Flux Trends survey run by Answered found that 57% of people aged 18-37 reported losing sleep compared to 45% of workers aged 35-45. It seems sleep debt is becoming a global health issue, with younger cohorts affected more seriously. The consequences are far-reaching. A study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that an employee who gets adequate sleep is less likely to call in sick. According to a report by Occupational Care South Africa, absenteeism costs the South African economy around R12-16 billion per year. This equates to about 15% of employees being absent on any given day.
The US ‘sleep market’ was worth an estimated $28.6 billion in 2017 and is expected to grow by 3.3% in 2018. Various start-ups are emerging to cater to the sleep deprived global work force. Metro Naps based in New York founded Energy Pod, a chair designed for napping in the office. The chair is accompanied by low lights, soft music and an alarm clock. Napercise classes have taken the benefits of a 20-minute nap a step further. Launched by David Lloyd Gyms in the UK, members get to sleep for 45 minutes in the afternoon. Classes are designed to reinvigorate the mind, improve mood and burn calories.
US sleep evangelist Arianna Huffington’s mantra is ‘better sleep means better business and better leaders’ . Through her company Thrive Global, she advocates for changes to the culture around sleep. She notes that device addiction is a factor in sleep deprivation and recommends all devices are turned off at bedtime. This is just one of her company’s many suggestions for getting a good night’s rest.
The Sleep School in the UK provides workshops on ‘sleep education’ in order to ‘sleep to perform’. The aim of the course is to empower employees to operate at their best during the day by knowing how to sleep well at night. Dr Guy Meadows developed an approach called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, after researching treatments for chronic insomnia This is a form of cognitive behavioural therapy that aims to change the way in which people relate to the discomfort they feel.
Global hot spots
Japanese companies are encouraging workday napping on the assumption that a well-rested employee is more productive than a tired one. In the US and the UK, companies are building sleep elements into their wellness programmes.
By Khumo Theko
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Image credit: Hutomo Abrianto