When counting sheep doesn’t work

StayWell Blog

Ah…the glory of a good night’s sleep! As the father of two young children, I’m probably not the best person to describe how it feels to get the full, 7 to 9 hours of sleep recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. I am, however, very well-qualified to describe the blurry, lethargic, thickness of getting too little sleep, and having that sleep interrupted several times a night.

In my case, sleep is usually interrupted by a crying infant boy down the hall, occasionally by my wife’s elbows, and did I mention we have a dog who often tries to sleep on top of me? All told, my sleep habits are probably poor. According to new research from StayWell and other expert sources, my supervisor should be concerned.

The research team at StayWell recently analyzed employee data from almost 600,000 StayWell health assessments. We found that those employees who don’t get the recommended hours of sleep, or who report not feeling well-rested, also self-report approximately 2 to 4 times as much lost productivity as their well-rested, non-sleep-deprived colleagues.

Consider the table below, which compares people who say they get the recommended eight hours of sleep per night to those who reported getting five hours or less. Here, the term “presenteeism” refers to the percent of time the person is at work, but not working; the higher the percentage, the less productive an individual is.

In addition to those associations, we found a strong relationship between hours of sleep and several health concerns, including obesity, stress, and depression.

Other researchers have found that lack of sleep or poor sleep habits are associated with an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, anger, fatigue, unethical behavior, and job dissatisfaction . All of which could be costing employers money, in terms of health care costs and productivity loss.

Does this mean that employers should stop hiring young workers, due to their increased risk of having babies and, therefore, getting inadequate sleep in? Absolutely not. StayWell data also showed that younger workers were among the most likely to get at least seven hours of sleep, shown in the chart below.

So, what’s an employer to do?

Look to StayWell for a solution! We have developed new programs that are offered as part of our comprehensive well-being solutions to all kinds of employers across the country. These new program focuses on educating employees about the quality, quantity and regularity of sleep, and how it can affect their health and performance in all aspects of life.

This addition to our health education modules, teach people about sleep and their health, the connection between sleep and weight, the power of napping, and how to track and monitor sleep. Our Sleep series has three learning modules:

  • Sleep and your health
  • Sleep-weight connection
  • Napping

And one tracking module:

  • Sleep tracking

The first three modules will be delivered with an article, video and quiz strategy. The sleep tracking module will focus on the participant tracking their own sleep habits and utilizing new skills to form healthier sleep habits.

You’ll be hearing more about this exciting new program in the coming weeks. Stay tuned for future blogs on the benefits of sleep and how it affects health. But in the meantime, contact engage@staywell.com to learn more and to discover how you can use StayWell Sleep in your workplace.

In good health,
Stefan Gingerich, MS
StayWell Senior Research Analyst