Sleep: An Overlooked Necessity

Card image cap

When we think of productivity and better health at work, we inadvertently begin with efficient time management, exercise routines and diets in mind. However, an important part of the health and fitness puzzle is often left forgotten - a healthy sleep schedule.

To see optimal health benefits, doctors and sleep experts recommend getting 7 hours or more of sleep per night for the average adult. However, multiple studies show that 35% of adults do not get adequate sleep on a regular basis and nearly 70% of adults report feeling sleep deprived more often than not.

This is a worrying trend, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, because a lack of sleep can decrease the body's natural immunity against diseases. Moreover, an irregular sleep schedule can also lead to an increase in chronic ailments, due to reduced immunity. In a recent poll on the causes for low immunity in the body, 23% of the participants voted that having an irregular sleep schedule is a probable cause.

The importance of good sleep

Mental and physical fatigue often manifests itself in our behaviour. When human beings do not get adequate sleep, it can lead to higher levels of irritability due to rising cortisol levels. Moodiness, crankiness and mood swings may also be a result of sleep deprivation.

Harvard University's research on the sleep schedules of 2000 adults reported that the participants with irregular sleep schedules doubled their risk of heart diseases within a span of 5 years.

An irregular sleep schedule also raises the risk of the following health issues:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke

Clearly, the need for a healthy amount of sleep and a regular sleep routine is of paramount importance in keeping fit and healthy. Now, let's discuss how we can go about implementing this knowledge into our daily lives.

Ways to improve your bed-time routine

  • Avoid stimulants - It is common knowledge that foods that keep us awake or change our biochemistry, such as caffeine and alcohol, should be avoided within a few hours before sleep. While alcohol is sometimes used as a sleep-aid, in actuality, it causes interference with your natural circadian rhythm. Alcohol reduces melatonin production, which is the hormone responsible for making you feel sleepy, by up to 20%.
  • Keep it cool - In colder conditions, it is easier to reach REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep. This is the phase of sleep where the body repairs itself and is considered the truly resting phase of sleep. Keeping the room at an optimal temperature, around 19-22 degrees Celsius, is very beneficial for the quality of sleep.
  • Consistency is key - Going to bed and waking up at around the same time every day can help get you accustomed to a routine. This also counts during the weekend, as your body can't tell the difference between a work day and a holiday. Occasionally sleeping in is okay, as long as you adhere to a set routine most of the time.

How employers can help

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, every one of us now knows the importance of having higher immunity and a healthy lifestyle. Hence, employers can also implement the following strategies to foster better sleep hygiene for their team members.

  • The E-T-A approach - Educating employees on the importance of a healthy sleep schedule can be incorporated into official communication through newsletters and informational posters for all to see. Training managers and team members to notice symptoms of fatigue may help reduce fatigue-related issues in the workplace. Assessing sleep patterns and health effects can be made easier by providing employees with tools to evaluate their sleep habits.
  • Dedicated break rooms - When making the shift from remote work back to a physical office, employers can take a leaf out of companies such as Google, and create special break rooms that allow fatigued team members to rest and re-energize. This would help foster a feeling of well-being and would also make employees feel cared for.Additionally, taking breaks when necessary in a comfortable environment would help boost productivity as well.

Maintaining healthy living

Sleep is an important aspect of life that most people tend to overlook. However, as we have seen here, not only is sleep important for feeling rested, alert and productive, it is also an important catalyst for general well-being. Heart health, cognition and a host of other aspects of our body and mind are dependent on adequate sleep for optimal function. So why not take what we have discussed here and start to implement it in our everyday lives?


Share on Linkedin