We’ve all awoken wanting an extra hour of sleep some mornings. With Daylight Savings Time behind us, we now get that much anticipated extra hour. Despite the extra sleep we enjoy, however, it can typically take up to three days for our brains and bodies to adjust to the one hour shift. This can alter the quality of our sleep, leaving some of us feeling more tired during the day.
No one wants to ruin their week feeling sluggish from a lack of adequate or quality sleep, and for many employers sleep loss can have a real impact on the health of the workforce.
The Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) reports that one-third of American adults do not get enough sleep. Health benefits professionals must understand the wider effects this can have on their workforce, company, and healthcare costs year-round — and what they can do to help support healthy sleep habits in their employee population.
1. Get up at the same time each day. Routine is key for creating a consistent drive to sleep each day.
2. Seek out exposure to morning light where you can. Lack of light exposure during winter days can result in a drift of our internal body clock, making it harder to get up in the morning.
3. Avoid bright lights for at least an hour before bed. Bright light inhibits the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which can leave us feeling more alert.
Beyond Daylight Savings Time, some employees may struggle with getting adequate sleep due to a health condition, rather than just the clock change. The most common one, present in around 2 in 10 employees, is insomnia. Insomnia is a mental health condition in which an individual has difficulty getting to sleep or staying asleep through the night, with negative daytime effects as a result.
Insomnia has a serious impact on health outcomes. Lack of sleep has been linked with a number of chronic conditions, including many of the leading causes of death in the U.S., and, is closely linked with other mental health conditions. Two thirds of those suffering from clinical levels of anxiety or depression also have insomnia.
For employers, addressing these issues and supporting healthy sleep habits can have a great impact on creating a happy, healthy workforce. It can also help to control healthcare costs. A recent study found that individuals with an insomnia diagnosis or related prescription had 75 percent higher healthcare costs than those without. Beyond this, sleep deprivation and insomnia can influence employee productivity, absenteeism, and workplace errors and accidents.
Castlight’s health navigation platform can help by targeting employees who may be suffering from a sleep issue with personalized communications on sleep’s importance, a wellness exam to determine if they’re getting enough rest, and sleep programs to help improve their sleep patterns.
The benefits of Sleepio
In particular, Sleepio has had tremendous success. Research has proven that Sleepio can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, reduce time spent awake at night, and increase energy during the day. In a recent research in the Lancet Psychiatry Journal, people who used Sleepio not only had reduced symptoms of insomnia, but also of depression, anxiety, and paranoia, as well as an improvement in overall psychological well-being.
In more good news, Daylight Savings Time can help in other ways.
“Changing the clock by an hour at this time of year helps by providing more natural light close to rising time,” said Colin Espie, Big Health Co-Founder and Professor of Sleep Medicine at Oxford. “The peak time for accidents on the roads is early morning, caused primarily by driver sleepiness. By having that extra hour to wake up and it being bright outside goes some way to mitigate this as we head towards winter.”
For the other 364 days a year, however, employers cannot afford to ignore sleep as a critical employee health concern. To learn more about the importance of sleep in your employee population, you can download Big Health’s latest White Paper on Why Sleep Matters: How Sleep Influences Health and Happiness