By Lindsay McMillan
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review has explored some surprising findings regarding the amount of sleep that workers get.
To get to the core of it, the more senior the position, the more sleep.
If you’re currently a sleep deprived senior executive, you’re probably ready to close the tab, but stick with me. Let’s first assess the two theories why this might be true.
1. Senior executives get a lot of help from assistants and middle managers, therefore have more time to sleep.
2. Senior executives have learned throughout their careers the importance of sleep and therefore prioritise it better.
The Harvard Business Review favours option two – that senior executives perceive sleep as a necessity, rather than a luxury, to their effectiveness as a leader.
As many of you will know, the importance of sleep is a growing frontier in how to maximise workplace wellbeing.
Although it can seem at first glance that the workplace is overstepping its boundaries into our private lives, practices like out-of-hour email policies are both relevant to the workplace and can have a big impact on the lives of employees.
Simple measures can make a huge difference to whether employees are glued to their phones at home. For example, it is good practice to keep out of work communications to urgent matters only. Define what qualifies as urgent before you hit send and ask yourself whether it can reasonably wait until the morning.
So, if senior executives are getting more sleep, what is the experience of your typical employee?
We should all be getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night – and for good reason – research from Reventure shows that dissatisfied sleepers are likely to see detrimental effects both in and out of the workplace.
In our recent report, Workplace Wellbeing, those workers who are not satisfied with their sleep scored dramatically lower satisfaction rates for physical wellbeing (44%) and their job (55%). In contrast, those getting quality sleep were generally happier in all areas of their lives including physical wellbeing (83%) and their job (82%).
On top of this, the Harvard Business Review links chronic sleeplessness with depression, anxiety and paranoia, as well as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the longer term.
So if a lack of sleep is holding you back, consider implementing three easy steps to get the rest you need:
1. Avoid screens an hour before bed.
The effects that screen lights can have on our body’s perception of time are relatively well known. Keep your screens off before you sleep and consider getting a traditional alarm clock so you’re not tethered to your phone. Consider charging your phone in another room altogether.
2. Have an early dinner
Eating earlier in the evening will reduce the level of sugar in your body and make it easier for your body to fall asleep.
3. Don’t work your brain out
Working on activities that require conceptual thinking can stimulate your brain and make it harder to fall asleep.
My parting advice is to focus on wellbeing in the workplace broadly. Whether it is a one to one chat or if you put in the hard yards into a workplace wellbeing initiative, make it clear that you care about your employee’s wellbeing.
As business leaders, we want our employees to be working efficiently and intelligently, we do not want them working tirelessly to the bone.
For more information about the research and the campaign, click here.