Sleepy workers don't get good work done during the day. This can cause stress that further hurts their nightly rest. Not to mention, their low productivity costs U.S. companies $63 billion a year.
Business leaders could help solve this sleep deprivation crisis -- even by suggesting something as simple as napping during the day. But first, more of them must acknowledge the severity of the current situation.
In a new survey of 196 business leaders by consulting firm McKinsey, 43 percent said they don't get enough sleep at least four nights a week, and yet 46 percent said that lack of sleep didn't play a significant role in leadership performance.
Research, however, points toward the opposite: Years of getting bad sleep can negatively impact your memory, decision-making skills, creativity and social interactions, all of which are crucial for those in top corporate positions (and, of course, for anyone in the workplace). Your brain basically goes through a cleanse when you're not awake: It flushes out harmful toxins while going over information you acquired during the day.
So why aren't companies doing a better job of emphasizing sleep? One thing that the business leaders surveyed by McKinsey largely agreed on was a lack of organizational effort on this issue: 83 percent said their companies didn't try hard enough to promote the importance of sleep. And 36 percent said their companies didn't allow them to prioritize getting a good night's sleep.
There are a lot of ways for companies to begin building a work culture that advocates better sleep and productivity. A recent article from McKinsey Quarterly highlights some solutions, even suggesting that nap rooms could help.
Power naps during the day have been found to turbocharge your memory and boost productivity -- and a lot of big firms, including Google, Zappos, Ben & Jerry's and The Huffington Post, already offer nap rooms for their workers.
Companies can also institute training programs that raise awareness of sleep, according to McKinsey. These could include workshops, online assessments or apps to help you keep track of how much sleep you're getting. Sleep management app f.lux, for example, helps reduce that blue light emitted by your smartphone when you're trying to fall asleep.
The article's authors also emphasize that flexibility in company policies can go a long way. When traveling for work, for example, employees should be discouraged from taking red-eye flights and attempting to get their night's rest on the flight -- we all know how terrible airplane sleep can be.
Companies can also help prioritize sleep by making sure their employees actually use their vacation days (some 40 percent of Americans don't), restricting servers from sending work emails after a certain time, or setting aside days off during which no email or work is allowed. Earlier this year, JPMorgan Chase adopted the much more reasonable policy of not having its investment bankers work during weekends, though people working on active deals still had to log weekend hours.
Being tethered to work emails even while away from the office, after all, has a big impact on messing up your sleep. Employees feel pressured to essentially be on-call 24/7, especially if a manager pings them late at night.
The bottom line is: There's enormous potential in prioritizing sleep, and it's about time companies started doing more about it.
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