New Study Shows Costs and Extent of Worker Sleeplessness

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The modern workplace has increasingly promoted a link between sleeplessness and high performance. But sleep is as essential as oxygen, food or water. And when it’s compromised, it’s no different than starving the body and mind of these other essential elements.

A new study by GCC Insights shows that, in reality, sleep-deprived workers are associated with increased safety risks, increased economic and healthcare costs, and decreases in productivity.

That’s why it’s important for employers to promote workplace cultures that encourage optimal sleep and help workers prioritize mental and physical rest.

The study looked at a cohort of over 285,000 employees from more than 1,200 organizations. It found that over 1 in 5 (21%) of employees rate their overall sleep as either extremely poor, very poor or poor. Another 38% rated their sleep quality as only average. So for more than half of the workforce, there’s room for improvement.

The study also found that 40% of above average sleepers said they needed coffee to get through the day, while this rose to 52% among those that have below-average sleep. And compared to those with average or above average sleep quality, those with below average sleep quality are:

  • 1.4 times (140%) as likely to report lower than average productivity
  • 54% more likely to experience higher than average stress at work
  • 2.4 times (240%) as likely to rate their overall health poorly.

To address sleep-related issues in the workplace, the study recommends that an effective sleep intervention:

  • Drive personal accountability
  • Focus on factors within workers’ control
  • Dovetail with other contributing lifestyle elements, such as physical activity and nutrition, and reinforce the links between the three
  • Encourage optimal sleep behaviours by facilitating habit formation
  • Identify and provide strategies to eliminate factors known as “sleep stealers.”

Learn how to implement a fatigue risk management system, including a Model Fatigue Management Policy, in your workplace.

In addition, read about the hazards of drowsy driving and how employers can be held liable if an exhausted worker gets into a traffic accident after his shift. And here’s a Model Notice on recognizing the signs of fatigue you can give to workers.