Committed to Promoting Better Sleep Health and Wellness

The mission of the WorkPlace Center on Sleep and Health Wellness is to establish sleep as a pillar of workplace health alongside nutrition and movement.

Institute for Health and Productivity Management

Sleep: Foundational to Health, Safety, and Performance

Sleep and Fatigue in the Workplace

Setting a New Standard for Sleep Health Screening

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The World Health Organization (WHO) calls sleep “a basic human need,” without which individual health, safety, quality of life, and performance are radically compromised. Yet, sleep—the third pillar of health and wellbeing—is mostly missing from leading corporate wellness programs.

Nearly half of working Americans report having sleep problems that affect their performance.

Lack of Sleep: Public Health Epidemic

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) declared insufficient sleep to be a public health epidemic in the US. Thirty percent of the population gets less than six hours of sleep nightly—with insomnia impacting one in eight adults.

Sleep supports essential brain and nervous system functions, allowing recovery from the stresses of daily life, and strengthens the body’s immune response to infection and inflammation. Individuals sleeping less than seven hours were nearly three times likelier to suffer colds than those sleeping eight hours or more.

Research associates short sleep time with increased BMI, as sleep deprivation reduces the ability to metabolize glucose as well as increasing appetite levels and stress hormones.

  • Sleeping for less than seven hours increases the odds of OBESITY by five times (e.g. causing the consumption of 549 extra calories daily).
  • Sleeping for only five hours doubles the risk for DIABETES.

Sleep promotes heart health. Multiple studies show that insomnia increases the risk of heart attack by 27 to 45%, and chronic insomnia sufferers have thrice the risk of heart failure.

Sleep deprivation can damage mental health because sleep regulates the flow of brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, which are closely linked to mood and behavior. Employees who suffer from insomnia have a higher risk for major DEPRESSION and ANXIETY.

Institute for Health and Productivity Management

Workplace Culture vs. Health Science

The “cultural” approval of employees’ claims of not needing much sleep or getting by on four to five hours is a “biological impossibility’’ countered by research, showing insufficient sleep having a major negative impact on health, safety, and workplace performance.

  • Sleep deprivation itself reduces the ability to self-assess one’s performance.
  • Sleeping four to five hours nightly for a week results in cognitive impairment equivalent to being legally intoxicated.
  • Another study estimated that productivity losses associated with fatigue at nearly $2,000 per employee annually and workers with high levels of fatigue were found to be 70% likelier to be involved in accidents.

“Every aspect of who you are as a human, every capability is degraded and impaired when you lose sleep. What does that mean? Your decision-making, reaction time, situational awareness, memory, communication are reduced by 20 to 50 per cent.” ­—Mark Rosekind, National Transportation Safety Board

Workplace Safety: A Huge Sleep-Related Issue

CDC Survey: 200,000 workers in key industries

  • 40 to 50% are sleeping less than seven hours.
  • Shift work schedules are a common thread in sleep-deprived workforces.
  • Sleep-deprived workers are more than three times likelier to display unsafe behavior at work.
  • Employees suffering fatigue are three times likelier to have accidents, with insomnia-related accidents costing 50% more than other casualties.

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Institute for Health and Productivity Management

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Harvard Medical School estimates $3,200 to $4,000 of incremental annual health care costs per capita for unmanaged moderate-to-severe OSA: National lost-time costs of associated absenteeism and workplace accidents range from $10 to $35 billion.

Insomnia: The Number One Workplace Sleep Issue for Employers

“We were shocked by the enormous impact of insomnia... Americans still are going to their jobs but accomplishing less because they are tired. In an information-based economy it is difficult to find a condition with a greater effect on productivity.” —Ronald C. Kessler, PhD, Harvard Medical School and Leader on the American Insomnia Survey

Challenge: Question Your Sleep Habits and Test Your Knowledge!

Click here to take the survey.

Insomnia causes functional impairment at work because of:

  • Longer reaction times and slower processing speed
  • Lapses in attention, concentration, and memory
  • Errors of omission on the job
  • Fatigue

Can’t sleep? Take this simple questionnaire.

Download as a PDF and share with your workmates.

Symptoms of insomnia affect more than 70 million Americans. How many of your employees are affected? Read here.

  • One in eight adults have “severe” insomnia or sleep disturbance every night for two weeks or more.
  • Incidence of insomnia is higher for shift workers (29% of the work force), older workers who are 55 and up (25% of the work force), and women (47% of the work force).

Employees diagnosed with insomnia have higher total medical and drug costs than workers generally:

  • Incremental medical and drug costs are $1,500 annually—some of the difference because of the comorbidities of insomnia with other chronic health conditions.

The larger but less understood economic costs result from the impact of insomnia and sleep deprivation in lost time and reduced productivity at work:

  • Incremental costs of $550 annually because of absence from work due to sleep health issues; employees with severe insomnia miss work twice as often.
  • Four times greater costs of $2,300 in lost productivity annually from functional impairment, or “presenteeism,” while at work equates to 7.8 days of lost time.

Learn more about insomnia, including:

  • When, Where, and How to Find Help
  • Advice for Women With Insomnia
  • How Your Doctor Tests for Insomnia

Senior Management Notices Workplace Costs of Insomnia

The McKinsey Study on Organizational Cost of Insufficient Sleep states that:

  • 70% of 200 business leaders recommended that sleep management be taught like time management.
  • This is an opening to embed sleep into corporate health and wellness programs.
  • Another McKinsey Global Study finds that the mental capacities needed for effective leadership are affected by sleep.

What’s Keeping You Awake?

Learn the importance of thoughts, exercise, and “where you sleep” - Click Here