Lack of adequate sleep (sleep deprivation) is costing the UK economy as much as £40bn a year in lost productivity, according to a new study.
Researches at the policy think tank Rand Europe analysed recent survey data from 62,000 people in five countries: the US, Japan, the UK, Germany and Canada. They found employees who sleep less than six hours a night lose around six more working days through absenteeism or presenteeism each year than those who sleep seven to nine hours a night.
Sleeping less than seven hours a day leads to a higher mortality risk and lower productivity levels among the workforce through a combination of absenteeism and employees being present at work but working at a sub-optimal level. The losses stemming from this cost the UK 1.86% of its gross domestic product.
The report called on employers to recognise the importance of sleep and build facilities for employees to take daytime naps. It urged working adults to set consistent wake-up times and limit the use of electronic devices before bedtime.
As always, here are the Healthy Performance tips to help employees suffering from sleep deprivation:
Whilst at work …
There are a variety of things you can do to whilst at work to make sure you stay alert.
- Make sure the lighting in your workplace is as bright as possible to help your body adjust.
- Eat enough during the working day so you only need a light meal before bed and aren’t hungry when you need to sleep.
- Don’t have drinks with lots of caffeine close to when you go to bed as they can stop you getting to sleep.
- Take regular breaks at work to keep you energised.
- Plan your work around your working times – if you know you get drowsy at a certain time, wherever possible, do the most energising work at that point to make sure you stay alert. Talk to your colleagues too so you help each other stay alert.
Getting to sleep …
If you find it hard to get to sleep, there are several things you can try.
- Do something calming before you go to sleep, such as reading a book, going for a short walk or having a warm bath.
- Don’t do any intense exercise before going to bed, as this can make you feel more awake and make it harder to get to sleep.
- Keep your bedroom cool to aid sleep.
- Use blackout curtains or blinds to make your bedroom dark, or wear an eye mask to keep out light.
- Put your phone on the silent setting to prevent interruptions. Turn the phone upside down to avoid blue light emmissions. Ask family or friends to keep noise to a low level and to wear headphones when listening to music or playing computer games.
- Wear ear plugs if there is any unavoidable noise, or play gentle background music to drown out noise.
For further information and reading around employee sleep, visit www.sleepfoundation.org.