Sleep is as essential to us as food and oxygen. Most of us spend about a third of our lives sleeping, and those eight hours profoundly impact the time we spend awake. A good night’s sleep can have a positive effect on almost every aspect of our health and well-being. Sleep can help us avoid illnesses, from colds to certain cancers. It can help us fight anxiety and depression. It can relieve pain, reduce heart problems, and prevent migraines. And it can keep us from making fatigue-related errors.
A Harvard Medical School study showed that a lack of sufficient sleep may be responsible for as many as 274,000 occupational accidents and errors in the U.S. each year, with a cost of $31 billion in extra expenses for companies. Similar studies have even linked on-the-job sleepiness to several of the world’s most devastating environmental disasters: the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl catastrophes took place in the middle of the night, and employee tiredness is believed to have been a significant factor.
In a very real sense, getting the proper amount of sleep can make the difference between life and death.
Adequate sleep makes us more productive and focused
The more tired you are, the harder it to concentrate on something, both at work and at home. For companies, the quality of their employees’ sleep directly impacts how they function at work, whether measured in productivity, performance, safety, or health care costs.
The evolution of a 24/7 society has caused sleep debt (the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep) to steadily increase. While this liability doesn’t appear on balance sheets, it is likely that it impacts your company’s bottom line.
A 2012 study found that “When employees are low on sleep, they will engage in more workplace cyberloafing. In the push for high productivity, managers and organizations may cut into the sleep of employees by requiring longer work hours. This may promote vicious cycles of lost sleep, resulting in less time spent working, which could result in more frantic pushes for extended work time. Managers may find that by avoiding infringement on employee sleep, they will get more productivity out of their employees” – and more productive use of their time.
Today, more and more companies are taking employee fatigue seriously, encouraging frequent breaks and even workplace naps (yes, it can sometimes be beneficial to “sleep on the job”!) Many forward-thinking employers are now offering training programs to educate employees on the importance of a good night’s rest, how to sleep well regularly, and actions to take for sleep disorders.
Just a few of the many other advantages of sleeping well
After a good night’s sleep, you’ll be far less likely to become irritated over small things. Your reaction times will be faster – which is great for drivers. Your vision will be sharper. Even your speech will be positively impacted: staying awake too long can cause slurred speech, repetitive word usage, and a slow, monotonous tone – not so great if you have an important presentation to make.
Other excellent benefits quality sleep can give you include better all-round fitness (your muscles can’t grow if you don’t sleep!), fewer visits to the doctor, the ability to make smarter financial decisions, and… wait for it… a much more rewarding sex life!
Isn’t it time you started getting your full 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night? If you have trouble sleeping, ask your doctor for advice.