Why sleep is the key to a healthier, happier and more productive workplace?
Dr Jonathan Bloomfield, Mammoth Sleep Expert and Exercise Physiologist
Life in 2019 is busy and stressful. In fact, many of us are driven to believe that keeping ourselves constantly occupied at work and in our domestic lives is an important part of our identity. While there is absolutely nothing wrong in working hard and pushing ourselves to achieve as much as possible, there is a danger that we leave ourselves with little time to rest and recover. And the first thing that often gives way when we find ourselves working hard and under stress is sleep.
Stress can be both beneficial and harmful in our lives. Acute stress in a short burst can help us to perform very well at times – there’s nothing like a bit of pressure from the boss, a deadline to meet or an important presentation to the board to raise the pulse and get some adrenaline flowing.
However, when stress turns chronic, it is only a matter of time before our health and wellbeing begins to suffer. Heightened cortisol and adrenaline levels are detrimental to that all-important relaxation time, resulting in a sleep-deprived workforce that is burned out, low on morale, less productive and more susceptible to illness.
This deterioration in wellbeing is not helped by the fact that sleep is often mistakenly linked with laziness. Phrases such as “you snooze, you lose” or “money never sleeps” have led to sleep being considered in a negative light.
Yet the reality is that sleeping can be a strategic aid for better performance and productivity – both at work and in personal pursuits. Inadequate sleep has been found to:
- Slow reaction times
- Impair coordination
- Cause memory lapses
- Reduce risk awareness
- Reduce patience and tolerance
- Impair cognitive function.
These traits certainly aren’t desirable in any workplace. But in industries such as construction, manufacturing or haulage they can be outright dangerous.
Consider this: driving after less than 5 hours sleep is as dangerous as being over the legal drink driving limit, in terms of mental and physical function.
Paying attention to sleep requirements
Fortunately for workers, many organisations are now catching on to the benefits of having better rested and recovered staff. By creating a well-balanced working culture, staff are, on the whole, more productive at work. Interestingly, instances of staff absenteeism also drop in organisations where the work–life balance is carefully managed.
We can be very poor at recognising that we are suffering from a negative stress/recovery balance. Being busy tends to mask the reality of our true condition and we often ignore any signs and symptoms that are warning us that we are in a chronic state of under-recovery. Through our tiredness, we just keep going.
However, giving adequate time and space for relaxation is something that we all need to work at. For employers that also means encouraging staff to keep their work within agreed operating hours rather than spilling over into late-night emails or dangerously long overtime.
So, if you want to optimise your own and your team’s performance during the working day; don’t neglect the time you dedicate to rest and relaxation.
Dr Jonathan Bloomfield is an Exercise Physiologist and Corporate Wellness Consultant and is a sleep advisor to Mammoth – the sleep and comfort specialists. Based in the North East, Mammoth’s mattress and pillow range are preferred by elite athletes including Tottenham Hotspur, Premiership Rugby Players, Professional Cricketers and numerous Olympic medallists.
Businesses around the UK are also now teaming up with Mammoth to offer exclusive discounts on mattresses and pillows within their employee wellbeing programmes. To find out more about how your organisation can partner up with Mammoth, visit www.mammothperks.co.uk.