Having a bad day at work? The problem might not be your overbearing boss, cranky customer or uncooperative coworker. It may be what you did (or didn't do) in bed last night. One study by the University of Florida reveals that a lack of sleep not only contributes to us being more tired at work, it makes us less satisfied as well.
The study asked employees to complete a web survey at the end of each workday, rating their job satisfaction, previous night's sleep patterns and regularity of particular emotions. The result? Those who slept soundly the night before had higher rates of job satisfaction the following day than those who encountered sleep problems.
Why employers should care.
According to Brent Scott, who headed up the University of Florida research, a lack of Zs is a critical issue for American business. "Employers should pay attention, because from a business perspective, the most significant finding of the study is that a poor night of sleep can actually impact how satisfied you are with your job." Scott says that by not addressing employees' sleep problems, businesses run the risk of higher turnover and poor performance.
We fool ourselves about the amount of z's we are getting.
This study adds to the already growing concern that our Starbucks nation is a tired bunch. One poll by the National Sleep Foundation concluded that 40 percent of Americans are sleeping fewer than seven hours a night during the workweek. In addition, 75 percent of those surveyed reported problems sleeping a few nights a week, often resulting in missed workdays and errors on the job, among other things.
I've noticed a trend among my colleagues where they are often kidding themselves about how much sleep they are getting versus how much they actually need. If one of my clients starts nodding off in an afternoon meeting, I always ask them how they are sleeping.
They will often overestimate, boldly declaring they receive seven or eight hours of sleep a night, but, in truth, it's often closer to six hours. It's not that they are lying. It's more of a case of sleep denial.
What corporations can do.
So what can the well-intentioned corporation do to ensure that they have a well-rested workforce? Undoubtedly one of the reasons Americans are getting less sleep is that in most households, both partners work, help raise the kids, take care of aging parents, manage the finances, and do the household chores. All of this cuts into sleep time.
One thing companies can do to help with this problem is to provide employees with more flexible work schedules, on-site childcare, and wellness programs that focus on how to reduce insomnia. As for individuals, many of the tried and true sleep solutions offered by such organizations as the National Sleep Foundation seem to be just what the doctor ordered for a good night's rest.
5 ways to get better sleep.
In addition, here are five ways you can stack the deck in favor of sleep and wake up to a happier work life:
- Create a sleep schedule. Decide on a designated time for going to bed and getting up. This established pattern of sleeping and waking helps your body set its sleep clock on automatic.
- Turn off all the lights. The darker your room is, the better. Skip the nightlight.
- Avoid caffeine in the late afternoon. Imbibing caffeinated coffee, tea or soft drinks late in the day can cause a delay in getting to sleep.
- Engage in a sleep ritual. Plan a few pre-bedtime activities, such as soaking in a warm tub or some light reading, to help prepare your mind and body for rest.
- Watch what you eat late at night. If you need to snack, skip the sugar and try foods that are high in the amino acid tryptophan, such as low-fat dairy products, bananas, hummus, eggs and sunflower seeds.