Sleep Awareness Week 2017

Better sleep = smarter and safer workplace

It’s Sleep Awareness Week! Run by the Sleep Health Foundation, this week aims to promote the value of a good nights’ sleep and raise awareness of sleep disorders.  The theme for Sleep Awareness Week is ‘Better sleep = smarter, safer workplaces’. In our fast paced world, the quantity and quality of our sleep are vital to our overall health and wellbeing. Our sleep also impacts our ability to stay alert, safe, and be productive at work. Below we explore why sleep is so important and how it can impact job performance.

Why is sleep so important?

We will spend approximately one-third of our human existence in a restful slumber, or for some of us, attempting to do so (Aminoff et al., 2011). Poor sleep has negative health repercussions that impact our cognition, emotions, mood, and productivity at work.

  • Do you wake feeling rested?
  • Do you crave a 3 pm afternoon nap?
  • Do you feel lethargic throughout most of the day?
  • Do you find yourself easily irritated?
  • Do you find yourself unable to cope and keep up with the demands of your job?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, and are looking to not only boost your energy levels but perhaps, impress your boss and be first up in line for a promotion, then read on!  There are multitudes of reasons why sleep can help to improve your job performance, as well as enhance your overall health.

According to Kim et al., (2016) sleep disorders may lead to substantial decreases in workers’ quality of life and work efficiency.  Thus, authors concluded sleep disorders pose a serious problem that requires attention from both individuals suffering from sleep disorders, as well as corporations looking to improve the health of their employees.

How does sleep improve on the job performance?

Getting adequate rest can improve your job performance in several ways (The Natural Sleep Foundation, 2017):

  • You will recover from distractions faster; people who are sleep-deprived have more trouble focusing on the task at hand in comparison to those who had adequate rest;
  • less than 6 hours of sleep per night is the best predictor of job burn-out and according to the Natural Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation costs companies billions a year in lost productivity;
  • sleep improves your ability to make quick decisions;
  • getting enough rest ensures your memory and cognitive function is kept up to speed; and
  • you will make fewer mistakes; even moderate sleep deprivation leads to a 50% slower response time and lower accuracy in simple task completion, even when compared to someone who is under the influence of alcohol.

How can employers and employees help each other?

By providing a routine work schedule, scheduling work hours in a sleep circadian rhythm friendly way, changing workplace lighting, and implementing sleep education and sleep disorders sleeping programs within the workplace, employers can improve workplace alertness.  In turn, this has a positive effect on overall health and productivity of all employees.  As children, nap time turned into World War III, it was a punishment!  How ironic in during our adult years we yearn for a horizontal life pause and view it as a rewarding experience.  Perhaps future work environments will include a snooze-friendly policy-

As an employee, there are several steps you can take to improve your sleep hygiene, including:

  • Schedule your sleep routine; try to plan your bedtime around the same time each day, and aim for 8 hours per night;
  • plan ahead; if you know you’ve got a late night, try to get a little extra sleep the night before, or if it’s a weekend, take a short 20-minute power nap;
  • do not use electronic devices 1 hour prior to bed; the blue light reduces the production of melatonin and enhances alertness;
  • prioritise your children’s sleep; poor sleep in children can negatively affect their growth, and childhood habits influence adult behaviours;
  • avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, and alcohol, 3-4 hours before bed; and
  • create a good sleeping environment by using black-out blinds and eliminating bright lights, wear an eye mask if necessary, and keep the room at a cool temperature.

Sleep problems and sleep disorders affect 40% of Australians at any given time (Work Alert, 2017).  Even if you do not have a diagnosed sleep disorder, you may not be getting enough sleep as you’d like, giving rise to long-term consequences.

At Elevate, respiratory and sleep specialist Dr Kevin Chan leads our sleep disorders clinic. If you suffer from daytime sleepiness or struggle to get a good nights sleep, download our Referral Form to take to your GP.  Once referred, contact Elevate on 9252 2225 to book an appointment with Dr Kevin Chan. 

Resources

Aminoff MJ, Boller F, Swaab DF. We spend about one third of our life either sleeping or attempting to do so. Handb Clin Neurol. 2011;98:vii. Doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-52006-7.00047-2.

Kim G, Min B, Jung J, Paek D, Cho, S. The association of relational and organizational job stress factors with sleep disorder: analysis of the 3rd Korean working conditions survey (2011). Ann Occup Environ Med. 2016;28(1):46. Doi: 10.1186/s40557-016-0131-2.

The Natural Sleeping Foundation (2017). How sleep can help you be more productive at work. Retrieved from http:// https://sleep.org/articles/sleep-and-productivity-at-work/.

Work Alert. Department of Industry Innovation and Services (2017). Manage your sleep. Retrieved from http:// http://www.workalert.org.au/src/manage-your-sleep.

 

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