You don’t need to be an expert to understand the importance of sleep and the impact it can have on daily life and wellbeing, but how many of us are truly heading to work refreshed. With World Sleep Day and National Bed Month falling in March, now seems as good a time as ever to assess how rested we truly are.

In a recent poll, we found the majority of workers are getting the NHS’s recommended minimum of at least 6 hours sleep per night (68%). However, almost a third of workers are getting less than that (31%). Work can certainly be a barrier to a good night’s sleep, with thoughts of what needs to be done the next day or the final emails to answer keeping people up. We found that just under half of all people regularly think about work before bed (42%) and one in five even regularly dream about work (21%). This reveals the impact that the working day is having on us, long after it has finished.

When we do have a bad night’s sleep, our quality of work is likely to be affected. We’re more likely to feel stressed (51%), find work more difficult (44%) and are less productive (43%). Even our personal working relationships take a hit with, 37% of us finding ours colleagues annoying or difficult to work with as a result of a poor night’s sleep. All this mounts up, with even a fifth admitting they consider calling in sick (19%).

So, with 77% of people feeling sleep patterns should be considered as part of workplace wellbeing, what can we do to improve sleep and make us all feel more energised for work:

  1. Avoid answering emails or using electronic devices for at least an hour before going to bed, as the light from the screens can have a negative impact on sleep.
  2. Consider writing a ‘to do’ list, to help manage thoughts and clear your mind.
  3. Ensure weekends and days off are treated as breaks, with staff given the opportunity to rest as much as they need.
  4. If you or your staff work night shifts, try to create a routine with patterns of shifts, like ‘four on, four off’ rather than sporadic changes to hours, and if you have staff who have to sleep ‘on the job’ make sure they still have time to follow a wind down bedtime routine.
  5. Try to be healthier more generally, as those who eat well and exercise regularly tend to have a better night’s sleep.

As experts in the employee experience, we understand the importance of employee wellbeing. We recognise the significant impact of bad practice and poor culture and we work with organisations to take action.  If you wish to discuss wellbeing or the employee experience at your organisation, please contact Hannah Woodbridge, Consultant at Hannah.Woodbridge@BMGResearch.co.uk

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