A recent analysis from an international human resource company revealed that of the top 15 drivers of poor employee productivity the number one culprit is insufficient sleep.
The remaining top 14 drivers of lost productivity were: depression; fatigue; back/neck pain; anxiety; hypertension; other emotional disorders; arthritis; obesity; chronic pain; headache; irritable bowel; high cholesterol; heart disease; and allergies. Amazingly, eight of these fourteen other conditions (anxiety and depression, chronic pain, headaches, fatigue, heart disease, emotional disorders and obesity) are strongly linked to insufficient sleep and other sleep disorders.
It has become increasingly clear that wellness initiatives need to address the problem of insufficient sleep. Improving sleep is the ultimate win-win. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) recently estimated that employee fatigue from insufficient sleep costs 63.2 billion dollars in yearly lost productivity to American businesses. The cost of employee errors and accidents adds another 30 billion dollars in losses.
It’s astounding that it has taken us so long to wake up to the impact of sleep on health and productivity. Part of the reason for this long delayed “discovery” is the pervasiveness of the problem. The most recent National Sleep Foundation survey found that 60% of Americans report struggling with their sleep nearly every night. Poor and inadequate sleep has quietly become the “new normal”.
In a 1961 National Sleep Foundation survey respondents were asked to estimate their average amount of nightly sleep. In that survey 2% of respondents estimated that they averaged 6 or fewer hours of sleep per night. In 2011, 28% of respondents estimated their average night’s sleep to be 6 hours or less: a mind-boggling fourteen fold increase.
During this same time period we have become more focused on maximizing productivity in our work and in our personal lives. In the search for solutions many of us have ironically, and mistakenly, decided that sleeping less might be the answer. Somehow sleep has fallen into disfavor. We seem to think of a full night’s sleep as lazy or wasteful. There are also technical and social trends that have eroded the quality of our sleep from the increase in artificial light to the preponderance of gadgets and devices that mesmerize and distract us.
Fortunately science and common sense are helping us to unravel this paradox. Increasingly we notice on a personal level that we are craving more sleep. The new normal of tired, foggy and forgetful just isn’t very satisfying. And in the field of medicine we are documenting the paramount importance of sleep. Medicine is discovering the connections between insufficient sleep and the rise in conditions like obesity, anxiety, heart disease and depression.
The advocacy of cutting edge wellness companies and progressive business leaders for sleep improvement is a win-win for corporate productivity and personal health.
Rick Clerici C.Ht. certified hypnotherapist and certified clinical sleep educator is the Senior Sleep Consultant at Comprehensive EAP. Rick has blended strategies and insights from his hypnotic work with his sleep education experience to create a unique approach to corporate wellness programs.