Public Health England recently released a report that suggested lack of sleep amongst employees costs the UK economy around £30bn a year, with around 200,000 working days lost. This got Mark thinking about how well businesses are doing to encourage their employees to talk about how well they sleep.
Justin Varney, writing for Public Health England (PHE) reported in January this year that businesses need to “create an understanding environment, where employees can be open with their managers about any sleep-related issues that could be hampering them at work.” PHE have also partnered with Business in the Community to produce the first ever sleep and recovery toolkit, which ‘offers insight and advice on addressing the increasingly damaging sleep-loss epidemic affecting the nation.’
I rarely suffer from insomnia but feel for those who do. Unlike Mrs Thatcher, who reportedly functioned perfectly OK on a nightly recipe of three to four hours’ sleep, I’m one of those who needs my full eight hours. I know that when I don’t get this, my work might suffer (so it’s a good job I’m not in a safety critical role!). I also know that when I’m under pressure or in stressful situations at work, such as looming deadlines or an overflowing inbox, my sleep pattern gets disturbed. I wonder though how many managers think about the sleep implications for their employees when they pile on the work, cut resources or implement change? I also wonder how open at work we all are to admit to difficulties sleeping? Perhaps we need to get much better at having these crucial conversations, especially now that physical and mental health are being talked about much more.
There may well come a day in the office when we all follow the weekend habit of many, of a 20-minute power nap. Work-day shut eye could well solve some problems, help us to be more productive, avoid potential accidents and reduce stress. That’s assuming of course that there’s a quiet space for a bed or two and someone changes the sheets regularly!