Work-related sleep issues are creating a nation of unproductive “insombies” according to new research by bed retailer Dreams.
It found three in four employees suffer from persistently poor sleep, causing weaker employee performance, lower output and more frequent sick days at a time when Britain’s productivity remains in the doldrums.
The report, titled Ending Sleep Stigma in the Workplace, from Loughborough University and commissioned by bed retailer Dreams, reveals the scale of Britain’s sleep deficit and its impact on British Business. In addition to three quarters of the working population suffering persistently poor sleep, over half (54%) are unable to stay awake in the day.
At a time when UK productivity is at just a quarter of the level before the financial crisis, the research lays bare how poor sleep is reducing employee outputs: a quarter (25%) say their sleep problems mean they are not able to complete work they had planned, as it makes it difficult for them to work fast and maintain the quality of their work. At the same time, employees are, on average, taking two sick days a year to catch up on sleep.
Despite work-related stress being the single biggest cause of poor sleep and the detrimental business impact of sleep-deprived employees, companies do not see sleep as a priority. Almost two thirds of business leaders (63%) say sleep is the sole responsibility of the individual and more than a third (39%) agree there is nothing they can do to help their employees’ sleep health. Just 3% of companies have a sleep policy in place, despite guidance released from Public Health England last year that businesses need to do more to improve their employees’ sleep.
The problem is being further exacerbated as employees feel unable to raise their sleep difficulties with their bosses. Almost three quarters (70%) have never spoken about it to their employers for fear it would hold them back in their careers or increase scrutiny of their work. A quarter (26%) say they think their boss wouldn’t do anything about it, and just as many are worried colleagues wouldn’t understand the problem.
Despite the concerning status quo, the report identifies a clear opportunity for businesses to prioritise sleep health for the benefit of their employees’ wellbeing and their bottom-line:
The report concludes that an insidious workplace “sleep stigma” is rife across businesses and is exacerbating employee sleep and productivity problems. It sets out a Sleep Stigma Action Plan: Tangible actions for government and businesses to end workplace sleep stigma and tackle the chronic sleep and productivity problems:
For businesses: Create a sleep supportive workplace culture by:
Mike Logue, CEO Dreams: “This report shows that Britain has a chronic sleep deficit and it is exacerbating our productivity crisis. Sleep is an opportunity to improve employee wellbeing and boost business, yet it is not being taken seriously. We need to put an end to workplace sleep stigma so more people and businesses can thrive.”
Dr Pixie McKenna, GP and sleep expert for Dreams: “Sleep is fundamental to good physical health and wellbeing – yet the significant majority of people simply aren’t getting adequate sleep. With people in Britain spending more time at work than any other European nation, it’s no wonder our work experiences and places are having such a huge impact on our sleep health. It’s time for all of us in our personal and professional lives to prioritise getting better sleep.”
In response the report’s findings, Dreams has launched its Sleep Action Plan to help support its 2,000 employees across the UK to sleep better. The programme Includes: