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Sleep is a vital part of our existences – without it, we quite literally wouldn’t be able to live; it recharges, rejuvenates, and recovers both the mind and body, leaving us feeling refreshed and alert for the day ahead. You’re probably familiar with what it feels like when you’re trying to go about your usual day on a poor night’s sleep – you might feel like you’re wading through treacle, struggling to keep your eyes open, making mistakes and doing silly things your alert, well-rested brain would normally prevent you from doing.

Although it happens outside of working hours, in the workplace, getting a good night’s sleep is also crucial for optimising performance, as high-quality rest improves cognitive functions like concentration, engagement, and productivity levels.

Therefore, whether or not you’ve considered this before, high-quality sleep is actually essential in your workplace – it’s not only fundamental to your team’s wellbeing, but is also a key catalyst for a healthier work environment. Incidentally, there’s no better opportunity to emphasise and promote the importance of sleep than on World Sleep Day.

What is World Sleep Day?

World Sleep Day falls on the 15th of March 2024 and is globally recognised as an annual celebration of sleep dedicated to promoting healthy sleep patterns, good sleep hygiene, and spreading awareness of sleep disorders.

According to the NHS, a typical healthy adult requires 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. Yet, despite this, poor sleep remains a prevalent issue across the UK, with research revealing that the average individual only gets 5.91 hours of sleep per night.

Ultimately, this research serves as a testament to how frequently our sleep is compromised, sacrificed, neglected, and deprioritised – posing as a sharp reminder of how relevant the principles of World Sleep Day really are in this current climate.

By actively supporting World Sleep Day, you can encourage your team to embrace high-quality rest, be mindful of good sleep hygiene, and pave the way towards cultivating a more positive, productive, and well-rested workplace culture which sees good sleep as an essential pillar of health.

But first, it’s key to understand just why sleep is so important and how it can impact your emotional wellbeing, physical health, and job performance.

Why is Sleep So Important?

Alongside regular exercise and a healthy diet, sleep is one of three widely-recognised pillars of health. Not only does sleep play a pivotal role in supporting every function in the body, but it also improves productivity, focus, and helps us maintain our mental health. We should all be prioritising getting 7-9 hours of sleep every single night.

Suffering from sleep deprivation can be detrimental to both your mind and body. Yet, studies found by Mental Health UK show that almost 1 in 5 people in the UK are not getting enough sleep. The short-term impacts of sleep loss alone can include feeling more tired, finding it difficult to stay focused, and feeling more irritable and stressed. However, chronic sleep deprivation can have more drastic impacts, especially in the long-term, increasing our risk of suffering from depression, anxiety, heart disease, and cognitive decline.

Therefore, it’s essential not to underestimate the emotionally and physically restorative power of sleep. Besides the usual feelings of tiredness and irritability the impact of sleep deprivation can extend to your personal and professional lives, it can also profoundly impact workplace wellbeing and performance.

How Can Sleep Affect Job Performance?

Most of us have had workdays that we’ve had to really struggle through due to a lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation not only has cognitive consequences, impacting job performance, productivity, and satisfaction, but it also heightens the risk of errors and accidents within the workplace. This is because sleep loss can be detrimental to our alertness, memory, and problem-solving skills – characteristics of which create the foundations of a thriving and efficient business.

Sleep deprivation can also impact a business due to the role it plays in decreasing levels of productivity, engagement, and commitment. These adverse effects can all contribute towards an increased employee turnover rate, poor stress management, and conflict within the workplace.

So, with that in mind, what can you do to improve you and your team’s sleep? Here are a few helpful strategies to get you started on the journey towards better sleep and improved workplace wellbeing:

Strategies to Promote Healthier Sleep in the Workplace

Promote Healthy Sleep Hygiene

What is Sleep Hygiene?

According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep hygiene refers to both your sleep environment and behaviour.18 In other words, sleep hygiene is all about creating the ideal conditions that promote a good night’s sleep.

For example, good sleep hygiene should include maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, turning technology off an hour before bed, creating healthy daytime habits, and making your bedroom comfortable in preparation for undisrupted sleep.

Mastering sleep hygiene is different for everyone, as it requires a personalised approach based on individual preferences, needs aligned with age/activity level/health, and necessary/preferred sleep patterns. However, the basis of good sleep hygiene centres around the creation of good habits and a relaxing environment that sets you up for a restful night’s sleep.

Ultimately, by encouraging your team to invest some time in bettering their sleep hygiene, they should become more mindful of their night-time routines, resulting in improved sleep quality and better overall moods.

Encourage Sleep Diaries

If some of your team consistently struggle with interrupted and poor sleep, you could consider encouraging the use of sleep journals/diaries.

What is a Sleep Diary?

A sleep diary is a daily journal which is used as a tool to evaluate, track, and identify any patterns or disruptions that may contribute towards disrupted sleep. It’s a proactive approach that can help you understand your sleeping patterns in order to identify the measures you need to take to improve the quality of your rest.

At Thrive4Life, we’ve created the perfect Sleep Diary template designed to encourage and simplify the process of monitoring your sleeping habits. This is the perfect resource to help you get your sleep back on track – it’s also easy to circulate amongst your team.

Reiterate the Importance of Work-Life Balance

A poor work-life balance may be affecting your team’s sleep pattern, especially if employees are sacrificing precious sleep time to catch up on work or go through emails late at night or early in the morning. Ironically, this pursuit of extra productivity during those out-of-work hours can cause poor sleep, lower moods, and disrupted focus/worse productivity during the working day.

To combat this, you could be stricter about the number of hours you expect your team to work and reiterate the importance of finding work-life balance. For example, you could implement no-work policies during out-of-work hours, encouraging employees to disconnect in their spare time, or have set hours for email sending, preventing anyone from sending communications before or after working hours that could disrupt people’s time away from work. This will help your team create more relaxed evenings which support better wind-down routines, leading to lower stress levels and better-quality sleep.

You Can Never Go Wrong with Resources

One of the best ways to spread awareness of the importance of sleep and its healing power is by distributing informative, helpful, and easily accessible resources. There are many accessible resources and toolkits available that cover a breadth of sleep-related material, from practical tips to the benefits of rest.

Here are a few you can consider looking into:

Thrive4Life’s Blog – At Thrive4Life, our blog is grounded in improving workplace health and wellbeing. As such, our blog posts cover a wealth of material, discussing the importance of work-life balance and offering advice on how to improve your sleep habits.

World Sleep Day – The World Sleep Day site has a multitude of valuable resources to choose from, stemming from toolkits to videos and podcasts.

Mind – Mind offers a range of information, practical tips, and personal stories to spread awareness and support those experiencing sleep-related problems.

Remember, Help is Always Available

These strategies are a step in the right direction to help you and your team seize control of your sleep routines. However, if you or an employee are consistently struggling with chronic sleep loss, it is vital to seek professional help. To learn more about this, visit the NHS website or consult your GP for support and advice.

In Summary

In our always-on working culture, World Sleep Day is a critical reminder of the importance of taking our sleep seriously! The benefits of a good night’s sleep range from better physical health to improved mental health and higher levels of workplace wellbeing, where its positive impacts can vastly improve job performance, productivity, and engagement – to put it simply, work is much more enjoyable when you’re not swimming against a rising tide of exhaustion.

So, it’s time to take strides against the toxic elements of the hustle culture that seems to have promoted a deprioritisation of rest over the last few years, remove the stigma around sleep, sleep issues, and how sleep is viewed in the workplace, and, instead, change our attitude towards sleep to one that is grounded in a recognition of the vital role it plays in our health, mindset, and wellness.

It’s time to shift the narrative around sleep and empower your team to get the rest they deserve and need.

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