Tackling Sleep Deprivation in the Workplace


Is lack of sleep affecting your organisation? This seems to be a growing trend in a 24/7 economy that the world now operates in. And the story in Australia is the same. According to research by Deloitte Access Economics, 39.8 per cent of Australians experience some form of inadequate sleep, resulting in productivity losses of $17.9 billion or $2418 per person as of 2016-2017.

Inadequate sleep not only causes tiredness and fatigue but sleep disorders such as insomnia, restless legs syndrome and obstructive sleep apnoea — which can all lead to serious health issues and complications, accidents and injuries, and even death.

Inadequate sleep and sleep disorders can severely impact your ability to work and consequently take a toll on your productivity and decision-making ability, costing your organisation in financial losses.

Employees in your organisation are likely to be tackling sleep issues too which can occur due to a number of reasons such as workplace bullying, stress and anxiety about work and personal life, unreasonable workload, shift work, negative behaviour and conflict at work, and poor sleep habits.

So what can you do to ensure that you and your employees are sleeping better?

  • Encourage your employees to be open about their sleep problems so that they can talk to you without any fear or embarrassment. This way you can help them tackle their sleep disorders with a solution that will work for both of you.
  • Encourage longer breaks or more frequent breaks to disrupt the monotony of work and to give your employees a chance to de-stress.
  • Use natural lighting or full spectrum lighting in your workplace. Research shows that well-lit offices lead to better sleep per night as it helps regulate cycles of sleep and wakefulness in your body.
  • Encourage your employees to reduce screen time after work. You can do this by not sending work-related emails after work hours as an example. A body of evidence shows that blue light from screens and other light sources reduces melatonin production while affecting the body’s circadian rhythms. This leads to diminished sleep quality, increased frequency of nighttime waking and fewer hours of sleep.
  • Invest in wellness programs so that your employees can learn about developing good sleep habits, a healthy lifestyle, and good eating habits — all of which help get better sleep. In fact, research shows that people who do something relaxing after work such as listen to music or take up yoga, sleep better. Wellness programs can be designed to host yoga and meditation workshops, tackle mental stress and motivate beneficial lifestyle changes.
  • Encourage fatigued employees to seek help. Look for signs of tiredness, irritability, and lack of attention and motivation in employees. Work with them so that they can get the help they need from a medical professional.
  • Ensure that the work roster provides for a continuous 7-8 hours of sleep every 24 hours and that overtime is limited so that employees get a break from a demanding schedule. In fact, this post gives some excellent strategies to maintain good sleep in shift-workers. Check it out.
  • Develop programs that deal with negative behaviour and promotes positive and respectful behaviours in the workplace. This helps develop employee morale and encourages civility in the workplace, thus reducing stress and anxiety.
  • If possible, establish flexible working hours so that employees have a chance to rest, tackle their personal life and come to work when they are more alert.
  • Encourage employees to take their annual leave. Also, ensure that they do not work and use their laptop on their break as it will leave them feeling tired, stressed and burnt-out — thus affecting their sleep and productivity.

Sleep is vital for everyone, and it plays a huge role in how your employees will perform and behave at work. It pays to establish various strategies outlined above so that you and your employees get the sleep you need. Subsequently, your organisation flourishes from improved productivity and morale.

If you are looking to implement any of the above ideas or would like to discuss how Wellineux can support your workplace please reach out info@wellineux.com