Poor sleep: major cause of poor employee health & productivity

Woman in bed with laptop

Insomnia is a huge problem in the U.S. At any given time, somewhere around a third of Americans are suffering from sleep troubles, and the consequences range in severity, from mood issues to serious physical health issues. High blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even certain types of cancer are among the potential results of long-term insomnia. Trouble sleeping is linked to unhealthier, and increased, eating, as well as an aversion to exercise. Beyond the physical impacts, insomnia has mental and psychological effects. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people with insomnia are 10 times as likely to have clinical depression and 17 times as likely to have clinical anxiety.

Insomnia affects performance in school and in work, with an estimated $63 billion yearly cost in workplace performance, due to both absenteeism and fatigue while at work. Insufficient sleep affects the brain in short and long-term ways. Memory, ability to focus and concentrate, and mental endurance are all negatively impacted. According to a 2011 study from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, insomnia is responsible for an annual average of 11.3 days of lost productivity per employee.

Understandably, the most common answer for people struggling with sleep is medication. According to a 2013 report from the Centers of Disease Control, it’s estimated that 4% of adults in the US use prescription pills to induce sleep in any given month. While people are quick to turn to medications – it’s a huge industry – pills do nothing to address the real issues that drive insomnia. Furthermore, medications can be habit-forming and potentially dangerous, as sleep meds can remain in the system after someone wakes, leaving them drowsy and less able to drive or operate machinery safely. The simple fact is that sleeping pills are a quick fix, and like most quick fixes, they’re more likely to exacerbate the problem than solve it.

Yes, insomnia is a problem and – largely due to workplace stress and our omnipresent technology and devices – it’s getting worse. Fortunately, it’s highly treatable if it’s dealt with properly.

Generally speaking, the more stubborn cases of insomnia are the result of certain thought patterns and unhealthy behaviors that a person continuously practices, oftentimes without even realizing they are doing anything detrimental. People with insomnia have body clocks that are confused, out of sync with the time of day. Therefore the key to permanently ending a case of insomnia is to fix the harmful thought patterns and change the unhealthy behaviors; this process gradually allows the body clock to reset itself and align with the day/night cycle.

Here at SelfHelpWorks, we have been concerned about the serious impact of sleep issues on employee health and productivity, and we have developed a course devoted to insomnia. It’s called LivingWellRested.

LivingWellRested utilizes the traditional tenets of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia in combination with our own unique methods of instilling lasting behavior change. The result is a powerful program that will return to participants the human right and pleasure of sound sleeping. In future posts, we’ll discuss in more detail just what LivingWellRested is and how it can help raise productivity, improve overall health, and elevate quality of life.

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