Half of employees in corporate Ireland are dissatisfied with sleep
Seven out of 10 report they feel tired and fatigued at work
Half of employees in corporate Ireland are dissatisfied with their sleep and seven out of 10 report that they feel tired and fatigued at work several times a month according to a Vhi Health Insights report published today. The report titled ‘Restless Mind: the impact of poor sleep on employees’ showed that only 13% of corporate employees can claim to have a good night’s sleep nightly or almost nightly while 30% of respondents claim to have become sick with colds or flu, or physically ill due to poor sleep, at least several times a year. The report is the third in a series of in-depth reports by Vhi into the health of Ireland’s corporate employees and is based on research conducted by B&A and over seen by an expert panel.
The findings show that a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis remains elusive for corporate employees.
- 20% corporate employees are affected by poor sleep nightly or almost nightly
- 28% of respondents describe their sleep being interrupted by worry on at least a weekly basis
- 89% of corporate employees admit that they logged on to the internet, 80% watched television & 79% checked e-mails, text messages or social media sites in the hour before they went to bed, on a nightly or almost nightly basis
The consequences of poor sleep and the implications not only for productivity but for overall health and wellbeing of employees was also examined in the report. The effects of poor sleep were ranging in levels of seriousness from feeling tired and fatigued at work to the potentially life-threatening event of falling asleep/nodding off while driving.
Additional findings in the report were:
- 71% of employees admitted to feeling tired and fatigued at work at least several times a month
- 17% admitted to making mistakes at work at least several times a month due to poor sleep
- 48% of respondents reported coming home from work too tired due to poor sleep to do household jobs
- 40% admitted to having been irritable with family members due to poor sleep at least several times a month
Dr David Morris, Head of Wellness at Vhi said “Sleep is fundamental to our health and well-being, yet we often take it for granted. We need sleep in order for our bodies to function properly including brain development and body restoration. If we don’t get enough sleep, there can be physical and emotional side effects.Our expert panel’s overview of the emerging science about sleep suggests a substantial level of overlap between sleep and wake patterns and the development of conditions as varied as strokes, dementia, cancer and diabetes. While mental health and the management of stress are more readily acknowledged and discussed as important for wellness, it is clear that the role of sleep in contributing to better emotional and mental health is only beginning to be understood.”
“The challenge in spreading awareness of the benefits of sleep is that it is less visible than other health initiatives we can undertake. Physical exercise, for instance, is a much more public activity. Changes that might improve our sleep can be difficult to adhere to as they impact on what we perceive as our ‘lifestyle’. For instance, the only time some people feel they have ‘me time’ is when they are in bed, so that’s when they use their phone. The reality is that we have a whole host of different prompts for people to encourage good behaviours around nutrition and physical activity, and virtually nothing to encourage positive behaviours around sleep”.
Recommendations from Vhi’s Expert Group in response to the findings are:
- Raise awareness about the importance of sleep
- Provide advice on good sleep habits
- Establish napping as an accepted part of the daily routine of high-performing employees
- Provide training for line managers and set boundaries to mitigate the encroachment of work on personal time/sleep
Dr Morris continued “Vhi is committed to enhancing our knowledge of the challenges to health and well-being, and to helping develop and deliver innovative responses that will enable people live longer, stronger and healthier lives. The research will inform and shape the programmes we are developing to address challenges to good quality sleep identified by our findings and our expert group.”
The Vhi Health Insights Expert Group gave the following 10 proactive tips to improve sleep.
1: Recognise that sleep is a crucial part of our well-being. When that reality is accepted, it is then possible to implement some simple steps to create an environment more conducive to the much sought-after good night’s sleep
2: Set an alarm for going to bed, a reverse ‘snooze’ button. It ensures we ‘know’ we need to be asleep half an hour before we fall asleep
3: Stick to consistent sleep/wake times (weekday and weekend). This allows it to get through the natural sleep phases more readily in the overnight period
4: Understand the role of the immediate environment in facilitating sleep. Boundaries must be set to ensure that the bedroom is a place where we sleep and everything around it should be planned to protect that space for sleep.
5: Ensure the bedroom is dark, cool and devoid of distractions
6: Exclude ‘screens’ for the last few hours before bedtime
7: Relaxation is important to improve sleep.
Try simple relaxation techniques if you wake in the night and avoid looking at your phone or clock.
8: Use light to help maintain wakefulness early in the day. Morning light advances our body clock to get up earlier. Evening light delays the clock and makes you get up later.
9: Learn about the value of sleep. For those with very poor sleep, education alone can improve patterns of sleep.
10: When making any adjustment to your sleep, take only small steps at a time.
To mark the publishing of the report, Vhi today hosted a Vhi Health Insights Business Breakfast focusing on ‘Restless Minds: The impact of poor sleep on employees. During the business breakfast, the panel of speakers explored the implications of poor sleep and poor sleep hygiene in the workplace today. RTE broadcaster, Evanne Ni Chuilinn hosted the event with other panellists including Neil Douglas, Qualitative Researcher with B&A and journalist and entrepreneur Aine Kerr.
(1) The Vhi Expert Panel are:
Dr Sonia Ancoli-Israel, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Professor of Research at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.; Thomas Coleman, Elite Performance and Sleep Consultant, CEO and Founder, My Nutrition; Russell Foster, Professor of Circadian Neuroscience, Head of the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology and the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute; Deirdre McSwiney, Sleep Technologist and Cognitive Behaviour Therapist for Insomnia, Mater Private Hospital Sleep Disorders Laboratory; Lucy Wolfe, Sleep Consultant, former European Director of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants; a member of The International Association of Child Sleep Consultants and the Irish Sleep Society.
(2) This is the third report in the Vhi Health Insights series. The first report focused on mental health in the workplace and identified that a high proportion of corporate employees in Ireland suffer from concerning levels of stress, anxiety and depression. The second report A Route to Mindfulness: Finding the way to better health in the workplace, was commissioned to get a better understanding of what mindfulness is, as well as establishing the role that mindfulness can play as a therapeutic tool for corporate employees.