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Employer efforts to help workers get better sleep may pay dividends: review

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Darien, IL — Basic employer interventions such as educating workers about the importance of sleep and sharing strategies to improve it may result in better sleep habits, increased productivity and reduced absenteeism, a recent review of research concludes.

Led by researchers from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Sleep Research Society, the review analyzed 60 articles focusing on workplace interventions to boost sleep performance. “Overall, most reports indicated that employer efforts to encourage improved sleep hygiene and healthier habits result in improvements in sleep duration, sleep quality and self-reported sleepiness complaints,” the researchers wrote.

Data from CDC shows that only 65.2% of adults get the recommended minimum of seven hours of sleep a night, while additional research estimates that workplace repercussions stemming from insufficient sleep cost the U.S. economy more than $410 billion annually.

 

“Sleep deprivation contributes to accidents and injury in the workplace and other settings, as well as absenteeism and poor quality of life,” Nancy Redeker, lead author and Yale School of Nursing professor, said in a May 13 press release. “Our review suggests that providing strategies to improve sleep in workplace settings may improve sleep and possibly improve these outcomes.”

Strategies the researchers recommend include:

  • Setting limits on the number of hours worked per 24 hours and per seven-day period.
  • Establishing a minimum of 10 to 11 consecutive hours off work per 24-hour period for workers to obtain at least seven hours of sleep.
  • Providing a sleep education program for all employees.
  • Promoting the use of short naps during work breaks.
  • Modifying environmental factors, such as lighting, to promote worker well-being and alertness.

“Employers who institute workplace policies and systems to promote employees’ sleep health have much to gain for their operations,” Claire Caruso, study co-author and NIOSH research health scientist, said in the release. “The benefits may include reduced costs due to worker error and workers’ compensation insurance, and they will likely see improvements in job retention. Promoting employee sleep health will be in everyone’s best interests: the employer, the worker, and the consumers of the organization’s goods and services.”

The study was published in the April 15 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

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