Sleep Alarm: Businesses Are Waking Up to the Costs of Insufficient Sleep
For the past several years we have seen growing awareness in the business community about the high cost of sleep disorders.
There is an abundance of research which validates the impact of sleep problems on productivity:
- An international human resource company has declared that “insufficient sleep” is the number one condition damaging corporate productivity. This finding followed a thorough examination of the top 15 health conditions and behavioral problems that damage the corporate bottom line.
- The National Sleep Foundation has estimated that companies lose $136 billion dollars yearly due to the many costs associated with sleep disorders.
- A Canadian study found that each employee with insomnia costs $4,388 per year in absenteeism, lost productivity and accidents.
- A Cornell University study estimates that the yearly medical costs for an employee with insomnia add an additional cost of $1,253. As many as 10% of employees have sleep apnea at an estimated cost of $6000 per year.
The good news is that it is possible to initiate a corporate sleep improvement intervention.
While some of the elements of this intervention address long term sleep awareness and improvement, screening for sleep disorders and sleep improvement in small targeted groups with additional telephonic sleep coaching can initiate immediate improvements. Additional ongoing EAP consultation and availability helps to change the culture around sleep while providing support leading to long term sleep improvement and continued savings.
Our intervention model has proven particularly effective when a company adds a night shift or adds longer shifts. Employees new to longer or overnight shifts need immediate help to reduce loss of employees or increased accidents. Shift workers in general need more help than day workers and it needs to be relative to their availability. The intervention can include live nighttime presentations or webinars, telephonic or email sleep coaching and sleep education emails that can be read at the employee’s convenience.
For example, one of our manufacturing client companies asked us to prepare the workforce for a change from eight hour shifts to twelve hour shifts. Many employees who were previously day and evening workers were going to try and move to the overnight shift. Twelve hour shifts add a degree of difficulty for employees and an increased risk of accidents at work and during commutes, production errors and potential turnover.
We began the intervention with one hour live presentations that involved in-depth sleep education with topics targeted for night and long shift work. Employees had a chance to not only voice their concerns but to ask sleep related questions and have them answered.
After employees had been working the long-night shift for three weeks we had another meeting during the night shift to assess progress, sleep quality and address problems before they became entrenched. All employees were given a sleep recording that aids in both initiating and maintain sleep, and additional printed material to guide them through this process. We are currently sending out sleep education emails every ten days and are available for individual telephonic or email sleep coaching.
We have additional levels of behavioral support that we will roll out over the next months to establish a solid foundation of support for shift workers and a model for this company as it moves forward.
Our intervention model is cost effective and produces tangible results: lower employee turnover, absenteeism and errors, improved safety and productivity and reduced costs.
The sleep alarm is sounding and the first responders are ready to clear the air.
Rick Clerici C.Ht. certified hypnotherapist and certified clinical sleep educator is the Senior Sleep Consultant at Comprehensive EAP. Rick has blended strategies and insights from his hypnotic work with his sleep education experience to create a unique approach to corporate wellness programs.