March is National Sleep Awareness Month: 5 Strategies to Help Promote Healthy Sleep Habits

Employees often struggle to balance work, family and social obligations. To accommodate these pressures, one thing that’s often neglected is sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends U.S. adults get seven to eight hours of sleep on average. However, most fail to meet this recommendation. In fact, a Virgin Pulse survey found 76 percent of employees reported feeling tired most days of the week.

Fatigue and exhaustion can be a serious problem for your workplace, since fatigued employees are less likely to be productive and focused on the job. Overall, this lack of focus can lead to increased mistakes, procrastination and a negative work environment. March is National Sleep Awareness Month, so with the help of our friends at HR360, we’d like to share five strategies to help employees get a better night’s sleep.

1. Allow flexible scheduling

This means requiring employees to be available during the core hours of the workday (usually between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) but allowing them to vary their start times. Doing this can help employees better manage their work, family and personal obligations and find more time for sleep.

2. Allow telecommuting

Giving employees the chance to work from home can be a great way to promote a healthier sleep cycle. Employees can spend the extra 30 minutes they would spend in the car sleeping so they are refreshed and ready to start the day. This is definitely something to consider if your workplace is located in a city where employees typically have longer, more stressful commutes.

3. Install nap rooms

Several large companies like Ben & Jerry’s, Cisco and Google have installed nap rooms in their offices in recent years. According to Sleep.org, studies have shown that taking a short power nap can actually boost creativity, improve alertness and enhance performance. This strategy could help reduce on-the-job fatigue, and it may also be a valuable recruitment and retention tool.

4. Hire temporary help during high workloads

High workloads make employees feel like they should stay later at the office. So, while output may increase, employees are likely to make costly mistakes when tired and overworked. During these periods, consider hiring temporary employees to help make workloads more manageable and alleviate employee stress.

5. Offer screening and education

If you company offers a health fair or workplace wellness program, consider incorporating screening for sleep disorders. Also, try providing educational articles about the importance of sleep and how employees can improve their sleep. If you are able to identify those at risk of having a sleep disorder and provide them with education, it could help reduce employee fatigue.

We know the strategies above may not be conducive to every office. Evaluate these options and also evaluate your workplace environment and the needs of your employees. It’s a good idea to survey employees about their current workloads and sleep habits to see which of these five strategies would resonate most with employees. In your survey, ask employees to rank how much they value these options.

If you do decide to offer programs like telecommuting, remote work or nap rooms, make sure you have a clear policy in place to prevent abuse or misuse. If you have any questions about these strategies to help employees get a better night’s sleep (or anything else related to workplace wellness), contact the Rose & Kiernan, Inc. Employee Benefits Management Group (EBMG) here or by calling (800) 242-4433.

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