The Importance of Good Sleep for Employee and Community Health
The United States isn’t known as a well-rested nation. In fact, sleep deprivation is frequently a source of pride for American workers. Perhaps you or someone you know have bragged to a friend or coworker about burning the midnight oil to achieve a task. From students to seniors, lack of sleep is associated with achievement, whether or not there is a real correlation.
In reality, most people don’t get more done by working later and sleeping less. In fact, the opposite is often true. Sleep is one of the most important ways the body’s immune system restores itself. Without sleep, the corrosive effects of stress lower the immune system. This increases fatigue in the short term, and will increase the occurrence of illness in the long term.
Lack of sleep isn’t a problem that can be quickly corrected. “Sleep Debt” is a real phenomena, wherein the body “keeps track” of how much sleep has been lost. Sleep debt must be made up at some point, even months or years after the fact. In the meantime, people with chronic sleep loss tend to experience compromised health and waking performance.
If sleep deprivation only decreases workplace performance and overall health, how can we convince our employees and community members to invest in some quality shuteye? Here are a few ways.
- Emphasize Results, Not Apparent Effort. Sleep deprivation, especially within a company, can have an element of showmanship to it. It’s easy to observe in distant cultures like South Korea, where employees may work late into the night, whether or not they have anything to do. In American workplace, the same is often true, though perhaps not in so exaggerated a form. It’s important for management to reward strong results, not the appearance of effort and dedication. The two can go together, but without actual results, sleep deprivation is more heat than light.
- Decentralize the Work Day. Though it may not work at your business, some companies have great success allowing employees to work at a time best suited to their lives, schedules and personal preferences. Not everyone thrives waking early in the morning and ending work in the mid-to-late afternoon. Workplaces that ask only for excellent work, whenever it is performed, may find their employees becoming better rested.
- Facilitate Healthy Habits. Sleep isn’t an isolated phenomena. Sleep quality is closely related to state of mind, fitness and overall health. When an employee is stressed, less than healthy and sleep-deprived, they may try to press through the fatigue with caffeine or other stimulants. When the same employee or community member develops healthy habits, falling asleep at night will likely be easier and more satisfying.
As an employer or community leader, it is important to explicitly promote the benefits of good sleep. As a technique for promoting good health, there is none better. Hanson Medical Systems has a number of methods to prevent the development of chronic conditions, but sleep itself may be the best tool available to people in your office or community. If you want to better understand how to make sleep a priority through your health fair or onsite clinic, contact Hanson Medical Systems today.