Better sleep plays a major role in workplace success
9:26 am 8 March 2021 Jose Fernandez0 Comments
along with diet and exercise, is one of our major health pillars.
However, despite its importance, sleep tends to receive far less
attention. This is interesting given the role sleep plays in not only
employee wellbeing but the overall wellbeing of organisations.
The financial impact of insufficient sleep
costs Australia $66.3 billion per year in lost productivity, health
bills and impact on wellbeing. Lost productivity alone is valued at
$17.9 billion, which includes $6.7 billion in costs arising from
employees underperforming on the job.
Sleep is the most valuable thing we can do to reset our brain and
restore body health each day (Walker, 2017). It enriches complex brain
functions such as our ability to learn, memorise, and make logical
decisions and choices. Sleep recalibrates our emotional circuits,
supporting us to navigate next-day social and psychological challenges
Science also understands that when we sleep and dream, our brains
take a neurochemical bath that helps us to integrate and process our
emotional experiences of the day. Sleep also strengthens the immune
system, keeps our metabolism in check, lowers blood pressure and helps
keep our hearts healthy. Yet many of us aren't getting enough sleep.
by the Sleep Health Foundation of Australia found that about 60% of
adults experience trouble either falling asleep, staying asleep, or
waking too early and not being able to get back to sleep, at least three
times per week.
Sleep has been shown to have a significant impact on employee performance. According to a report
into employee sleep by Deloitte Access Economics, adequate sleep
improves concentration and decision making. Conversely, creativity is
greatly impacted when employees don’t get enough sleep. Ideas and
innovation are less likely and problem-solving and decision making
capacity is reduced.
Without adequate sleep, employees are also more prone to be
emotionally unstable, moody, aggressive and forgetful; causing poor
decision making and leading to a breakdown in team morale. Absenteeism
and presenteeism – reduced working days, and reduced productivity
respectively – have a direct effect on Australian businesses.
The cost of absenteeism
alone is estimated at 5.5 days per person with a serious sleep
condition, every year. As such, organisations willing to address the
issue of poor sleep will be at a competitive advantage.
Supporting sleep difficulties
When it comes to supporting difficulties with sleep, there are
generally two methods: relaxation-based and mindfulness-based practices.
Mindfulness meditation and relaxation practices have some similarities,
yet they also have distinctly different approaches and intentions. We teach both in our Sleep and Work Recovery Workshop.
Relaxation-based practices aim to create a physical state of
decreased sympathetic arousal and an emotional state of calm. Typical
relaxation practices include deep or diaphragmatic breathing, guided
imagery and progressive muscle relaxation. The elicitation of a
relaxation response via such methods may be helpful for some people
experiencing sleep difficulties.
Mindfulness-based approaches to support better sleep differs from
relaxation-based practices in that there is a diversion from an
outcome-oriented approach to a process-oriented approach. From a
mindfulness perspective, difficulty sleeping is viewed as a temporary
state, and the attachment to sleeping better becomes the cause of
sleep-related distress. Therefore mindfulness-based approaches to better
sleep emphasise the cultivation of present moment awareness,
acceptance, non-judgment and self-compassion to alleviate the distress
that can arise during sleeplessness. Theory suggests this
process-oriented stance of mindfulness enhances self-regulation,
adaptive action and tempers stress reactivity.