22nd March, 2022.
The damage caused by employee sleep disorders
Sleep disorders are a global epidemic. A whopping 45% of the world’s population suffer from sleep problems. That’s 45% of your employees that may have a reduced attention span, poor memory, lack of energy and mood swings. All of these symptoms lead to poor or risky decision making. So much so that research suggests that 13% of workplace injuries and 20% of vehicles crashes are caused by tiredness.
While the immediate implications are clear, many are unaware of the long-term damage sleep disorders can cause. Impaired immune function, obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, stroke and depression are all linked to sleep disorders.
How to support employees suffering from sleep disorders
Given the detrimental impact sleep disorders can have on working and personal life, we need to ensure our employees have the support they need.
Less than a third of people suffering from a sleep disorder seek professional help. The reason for this may be because awareness is lacking. Here are a few facts that you could share with your employees to encourage them to seek help:
- Sleep problems affect a third to a half of all adults at some point.
- Sleep problems constitute problems getting to sleep, waking up early, or walking for prolonged periods during the night.
- Most sleep disorders are preventable or treatable.
Here are some really useful resources to help your employees manage their sleeping habits and identify if they are suffering from a sleep disorder:
- Understand what might be causing tiredness – this NHS article helps to explain the potential reasons for tiredness.
- Practice good sleep hygiene – for those suffering from tiredness (rather than a sleep disorder) this guide provides advice to help get a good night’s sleep.
- A list of sleep disorders – The Sleep Charity explains each of the sleep disorders, from narcolepsy to bruxism, and the common causes of each.
- Know when to seek medical help – because there are so many causes of poor sleep, it can be difficult to know when to speak to a doctor. This checklist makes that decision easier.
- Useful FAQs – these frequently asked questions cover everything from how to cope with a child that won’t go to sleep, to what foods help induce sleep.
Workplace factors influencing sleep patterns
Excessive workload, organisation change and shift working may all negatively impact sleep.
While it may be difficult to directly measure how work is impacting sleep habits, you can understand more about the work-life balance. An employee survey that includes work-life balance survey questions such as the following will enable you to make any necessary changes:
- Does your work schedule allow you to spend quality time with your friends and family?
- Is your workload excessive?
- On a scale of 1-10, on average, how stressed do you feel at the end of your working day?
- If you were unhappy with your work-life balance would you feel comfortable raising your concerns?
- How could your work/life balance be improved?
Surveys such as this should be carried out regularly to highlight and resolve any imbalances.
We spend up to one-third of our lives sleeping. Despite it being a basic human need, that need is often overlooked. By starting conversations and encouraging employees to share their opinions and experiences, we can help employees manage their sleep problems and address their sleep disorders.
With a desire to grow personally and a wish to improve working lives through employee engagement, I am thrilled to be part of building an internal comms system that connects everyone.