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No Rest For The Weary

Originally posted by United Benefits Advisors, LLC (UBA).

Why is a muffler salesperson always tired? Because their work is exhausting! You may think that a story on sleep deprivation should be in the wellness section, but the topic really does cover employee relations. Why? An article on Workforce.com states that employees who are sleepy are not only less productive, but are more prone to causing accidents and increasing health care costs.

This is corroborated by a recent news story about a Chicago Transit Authority train that derailed — allegedly due to the operator falling asleep at the controls — and injured several people. There was also the story of a London banking intern who collapsed and died after working 72 hours straight. Even Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, broke her cheekbone after a fall she said was caused by exhaustion. That company now has two “nap rooms” that employees can use if they need a break to help them regain focus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 30% of the U.S. workforce is not getting enough sleep. Furthermore, chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, heart disease, depression and even early death have all been linked to a lack of sleep.

Better sleep for improved performance isn’t just relegated to the office. In a Huffington Post.com article, many famous athletes, including basketball player LeBron James, football player Larry Fitzgerald, Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt, golfer Michelle Wie, tennis player Rafael Nadal, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, and Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn all require more than the recommended eight hours of sleep, with some needing up to 12 hours.

According to a Harvard University study, sleep deprivation impacts U.S. companies to the tune of $63.2 billion a year in lost productivity. Based on the 2012 Employee Benefits Survey by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), there are wellness programs in nearly 90% of all U.S.-based large companies, yet few address sleep issues and nap rooms are only available in 6% of the companies of those polled.

In that same Workforce.com article, the author points out that sleep is not a wellness issue but a risk-management issue. Proof of this comes from Christopher Barnes, an assistant professor of management at the University of Washington in Seattle. He and a colleague found, in a 2009 study of 23 years of mining accidents, that there was a nearly 6% increase in injuries because of daylight saving time.

It’s not that employers are ignoring the problem of sleep deprivation; many simply are unaware that a problem even exists. What’s needed is a shift in corporate culture that recognizes the benefits of sleep and how well-rested employees can enhance the company’s bottom line.