Sleep is crucial for a successful and happy life, yet there is much to suggest that we’re not getting anywhere near enough of it.
A recent study suggests that one way to improve our sleep levels is to allow employees to have control over when and where they decide to work each day.
“In the absence of sufficient sleep, we are not as attentive or alert, we process information more slowly, miss or misinterpret social and emotional cues, and decision-making is impaired,” the authors say.
“For example, we may misjudge risks by undervaluing negative consequences and overvaluing potential rewards.”
With around 30 percent of adults believed to be getting insufficient sleep each day, it’s a pretty big problem, not least for employers looking to get the most from their staff.
The study found that if employees are given greater control over their work hours, which was then found to improve the acceptance of their work-life balance, it resulted in significantly better sleep patterns for those involved.
The interventions were two fold. Firstly they allowed employees to choose when and where they would work, and secondly to train managers to support employees in this process.
Employees were encouraged to give themselves complete control over their work, so they could work from home, in the office, a co-working space or anywhere else they fancied, just so long as the work was of the same volume as those in the control group.
Each participant was then kitted out with a sleep monitoring device to track the quality and quantity of their sleep over a twelve month period.
“We showed that an intervention focused on changing the workplace culture could increase the measured amount of sleep employees obtain, as well as their perception that their sleep was more sufficient,” the researchers say.
After twelve months had passed, the study found that those participants given control over their work life were averaging eight minutes more sleep per night than the control group, or roughly an extra hour each week.
“Work can be a calling and inspirational, as well as a paycheck, but work should not be detrimental to health,” the authors conclude. “It is possible to mitigate some of the deleterious effects of work by reducing work-family conflict and improving sleep.”
Maybe that’s an experiment you could try in your own workplace?