Time to send employees to sleep?

Something for the weekend: The arrival of World Sleep Day today (19 March) cannot have come too soon for many of us, as the nation struggles with lockdown lack of sleep thanks to the stress of Covid-19 (Coronavirus), remote working and a lack of routine.

Now new research by sleep experts Silentnight has revealed that 85% of people confess to knowingly snoring, almost a third regularly talk in their sleep and 14% sleepwalk. This probably explains the survey finding that one quarter of Brits prefer to sleep in bed alone, rather than with their significant other.

And as well as the physical, mental and emotional toll, a lack of shut-eye can affect workplace productivity and contribute to burnout.

Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, resident sleep consultant at Silentnight, said: “Data shows that on average Brits are getting 6.7 hours of sleep a night, which means the population is in fact getting 1.3 hours of less sleep per night than the recommended eight to nine hours rest.

“Sleep is important as it allows our bodies to rest, recover and recuperate for the following day, so we need to ensure we are getting as least eight hours nightly.”

So what can employers do to help their employees drift into the land of nod with ease?

Amy Tomlinson, head of HR at MetLife, suggests remote workers step away from technology.

She said: “Set a good example internally by promoting regular computer screen breaks and discourage people from working out of hours. Staring at a computer screen for too long increases the risk of eye strain and using electronics at night can contribute to sleeping problems. Rather than logging on first thing, employees should use it as a good time to go for a walk or take some exercise.”

Tomlinson also recommends mindfulness activities at lunchtime to help employees “decompress and combat anxiety” which can be linked to sleep problems and offering subscriptions to relevant apps as an employee perk through benefits programmes.

“Investing in sleeping tools shows your employees that you value their wellbeing and also that you understand that the current situation may be having a greater impact on their mental health than usual. It is also a good opportunity to remind employees of any employee assistance programmes they have and how to access them,” she explained.

Taking regular days off to recharge is a must, too.

Tomlinson added: “Time away from the office – or kitchen table – is crucial for employees’ physical and mental health. Encourage staff to regularly take a day or two off to properly re-charge. This will leave employees feeling more refreshed and much more engaged once they come back and avoid teams burning out.”

It sounds good to us at Employee Benefits – we’ve had enough of counting sheep, misting pillows with lavender and lying awake for hours on end and can’t wait to put the tips into practice.