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The importance of sleep

Busy schedules, working overtime, incessant emails and not enough hours in the day to get the job done. This is the scene facing employees all around ..

Busy schedules, working overtime, incessant emails and not enough hours in the day to get the job done. This is the scene facing employees all around the world.

We live and work in a demanding world, a world that never sleeps, that’s always fast-paced and that places expectations on all of us to keep up. The fact of the matter is, it’s impossible to keep up. Somewhere, and at some point, we all have to rest. And failure to rest can have severe consequences to us as individuals but also to our businesses.

giphy-sleep.gifThat’s why sleep and success make the perfect bedfellows. In their recent report, The Organizational Cost of Insufficient Sleep, global management consultants, McKinsey & Company found the following: "Many companies do not do enough to promote healthy sleep, which can have serious consequences. Sleep deficiencies impair the performance of corporate executives, notably by undermining important forms of leadership behavior, and can thereby hurt financial performance."

The report found that nearly half the business leaders surveyed said they did not get enough sleep for four nights or more each week with 66% saying they weren’t satisfied with how much sleep they get.  

The science behind the report found lack of sleep, for both leaders and employees, leads to a fall in productivity as well as stifling problem-solving, the ability to trust other, creativity and learning. In fact, sleeping for 6 hours or less a day sees people perform tasks in an equivalent way to someone with a blood alcohol level of 0.05% - that’s the legal limit in many countries.  

The amount of sleep each person needs varies with the general consensus being it should be between 7-8 hours. So how can we encourage healthier sleeping habits in ourselves and our employees?

Prepare for sleep

Just like you’d cool-down after a hard workout, your brain needs cool-down time before sending your body to sleep. Instead of last minute emails or checking social media before going to sleep, why not turn the device off and unplug for 30 minutes? Try it for a few days and see the difference it has to the quality of your sleep.

Stick to your schedule

We know better than most the importance of sticking to a good schedule. Just like in business, the same is true for our bodies. Try to go to sleep and wake up at similar times each day. Sleeping works in cycles and by keeping them regular we can make sure we are refreshed, revitalised and ready to go.

Have planned down time

Whether it’s a vacation or simply time spent doing something other than work, having planned down time in your schedule is key for keeping your performance at work consistently high.

Embrace the nap

This one isn’t for everyone and not always appropriate but nap-lovers will be delighted to hear that a 30 minute nap has been proven to improve focus and problem-solving capabilities. Companies such as Google, Ben & Jerry’s, Nike and Uber (at the HQ not in the cars!) all have nap rooms or pods where their employees can top up their batteries.

Measure it

The recent explosion in wearable tech means it’s easier than ever for us to track the correlation between our bodies and our performance. By quantifying the self, we’re able to use the data to make better decisions and spot trends. This includes measuring our sleep.    

Being healthy at work was top of the agenda in last week’s blog post and in it we saw easy ways we can all be healthier in the workplace while having more energy and performing better as a result. Along with exercise and nutrition, sleep makes up the third pillar of health.

Our performance at work, and the performance of our teams and employees, isn’t just limited to what happens inside the office. By taking a 360-approach to employee health and wellbeing businesses are seeing improved employee engagement levels, higher levels of performance and employees who enjoy work.

Read our guide on how you improve your employees engagement. 

  Read the guide

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