Do you think September is a particularly stressful month? If so, you’re not alone, with the Sleep Council UK dubbing it ‘stresstember’ and emphasising the importance of sleep on reducing stress.
The Sleep Council UK has suggested that September is the start of the ‘stress calendar’. This is because this month is when children go back to school, the weather starts getting cooler and we have no more public holidays to look forward to until December. It launched a campaign to stresstember into sleeptember after a survey of over 2,000 people found that:
It can often be a vicious circle: stress can keep you awake at night, making you more tired and affect your ability to perform day to day tasks, which can then increase your stress levels. Conversely, a good night’s sleep can help to reduce stress.
Most companies now acknowledge the link between stress and workplace performance, but do you know that sleep is also crucial for productivity?
Inadequate sleep can affect decision making skills, concentration, memory, creativity and mood. It also increases the likelihood of health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease. So, it’s not just bad for business - it is in everyone’s best interests to make sure they get enough sleep.
If you think you can make up for lost sleep at the weekend, sorry to burst your bubble, but it’s not always the case. While two days of recovery sleep at the weekend can reduce your sleepiness, the extra sleep doesn’t necessarily improve your attention and focus, according to a study from Penn State University College of Medicine. It’s also been discovered that genes associated with responses to stress, and inflammation become more active when you have less sleep.
Another reason businesses should be encouraging staff to have a good night’s sleep is because of the link between sleep and sickness absence. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that those who had an optimum amount of sleep recorded fewer sick days and better health.
But it’s not about getting as much sleep as possible – too much sleep can be as bad as too little according to the study. It found that those who slept for five hours or less or 10 hours or more were likely to have higher levels of sickness absence than those who had optimal sleep (between seven and eight hours each night).
While you can’t control how your staff spend their non-working hours (and nor should you want to), you can take some actions to help encourage activities that reduce stress and encourage a good night’s sleep. This advice is also relevant for you as the business owner or manager.