Insomnia could leave you falling behind at work
Susan Kim, Stephanie Graham
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
Studies show our nation's chronic exhaustion is costing companies billions of dollars each year. In most workplaces, sleeping on the job can get you fired. At Ben and Jerry's it's encouraged. Liz Stewart says the company has created a special nap room for employees.
"The nap room is definitely well loved here. Having 15, 20 minutes, even an hour if you need it, makes all the difference," Stewart explains.
They are not alone. A poll from the National Sleep Foundation found 34% of employers let their employees nap while on break, while 16% set aside a special napping room to do it. It's all for good reason says Jim Maas, CEO of Sleep For Success. "We are a nation of walking zombies. Seventy-one percent of us are not meeting the required seven and a half to eight and a half hours per night."
A Harvard Medical School study estimated sleep deprived American workers cost their employers $63 billion in productivity every year. Ted Olsen with Powernaps, a company that offers sleep solutions, says that's not all.
"Compound that with accidents and other broken equipment because of someone not quite fully on their game, you can add another 30 billion to that figure,' Olsen explains.
In response, some companies are incorporating sleep experts into their Employee Wellness Programs. One healthcare company offered a 6-week course for insomniac employees, and found it led to an increase of $672 in productivity for each participant.
"We talk about the serious consequences of sleep deprivation in terms of your health and your cognitive behavior, your productivity. We talk about sleep strategies that can be used," Maas says.
Some companies are going beyond a simple nap room, investing in special 'nap pods' which provide employees with a dark, soundproof bed. Experts say just one 26-minute power nap can increase your cognitive skills by 40%.
While some companies are encouraging sleep, others are helping their employees stay awake with special lights designed to regulate melatonin levels.
"Many companies are bringing in special lighting to the workplace to give people an energetic boost so that they're wide awake and alert through the workday or on shift work throughout the work night,' Maas suggests.
As for Ben and Jerry's, they say a simple nap can be a key ingredient to their company's success. Employee Ed Peistrup says, "It makes me feel like my employer trusts me and respects me to get my work done, be able to take a break and come back kind of recharged."
Some tips for a better night's sleep? Go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning - even on weekends. Avoid alcohol three hours before bed and caffeine in the afternoon. Most importantly - turn off all electronic devices - including TV, iPads and computers - one hour before bedtime. Those gadgets put out daytime spectrum lighting that can block the production of melatonin - the hormone that helps you go to sleep.