Sleep and Burnout: How You Can Help Your Employees Get More Sleep

THIS  month is national bed month

So we're talking about the importance of sleep, and how you can help your employees...

We all know sleep is important as it’s our bodies way of restoring, rejuvenating, and repairing. Sleep helps us process everything that has happened that day, but did you know that it’s also important in preventing burnout?

According to the National Sleep Foundation sleeping less than 6 hours each night is one of the top predictors of employee burnout. And, not getting enough sleep each night can also affect productivity, with employees who sleep less than 6 hours a night losing around six more days of productivity a year compared to those who sleep 7 to 9 hours a night (Employee Benefits).

There are some things you can do to help your employees sleep better and prevent burnout…


Understanding the difference between rest and sleep:

Even if your employees are getting the recommend 6 to 9 hours a night, they might still be tired and at risk of burnout. That’s because we don’t just need sleep, we need rest. There are 7 different types of rest we need to feel out best. These are:

  • Physical rest: This is what we typically think of as rest, as it involves getting enough sleep but also activities that can help with our body’s flexibility and circulation like yoga and stretching.
  • Mental rest: If we don’t get enough mental rest, we could be irritable, forgetful and have trouble concentrating. Even people who sleep the recommended 6 to 9 hours each night, can still struggle with feeling rested if they’re not getting enough mental rest because they’re having trouble turning off before they go to bed. This can be tackled by something as simple as taking short, but regular breaks throughout the day.
  • Sensory rest: We all spend our day surrounded by bright lights, computer screens and virtual meetings. This can leave us feeling overwhelmed. Encourage your employees to either close their eyes for a minute or two in the middle of the day, or ideally take time away from screens and lights by going for a walk.
  • Creative rest: This type of rest is particularly important for any employees whose roles involve problem solving or coming up with new, innovative ideas. Some simple ways to get creative rest are spending time enjoying nature whether that’s at the park or in your garden. And we all know staring at a blank wall all day isn’t ideal when we’re trying to be creative, so try putting up images of places you love or pieces of art that make you happy.
  • Emotional rest: this is about having the time and space to be able to express our feeling and not feel like we have to please other people. Try encouraging your employees and managers to have open conversations, and that they don’t have to be okay all the time.
  • Social rest: although slightly challenging at the minute, this is all about surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people. It can also help to make sure you’re engaged with conversations by turning on your camera and focusing on who you’re talking to. Though, make sure you don’t pressure your employees to turn the camera on if they’re not comfortable as that can cause unnecessary stress.
  • Spiritual rest: this isn’t quite what it sounds like, it’s not necessarily all about spirituality and religion. Although that is part of it. Spiritual rest is the ability to connect and the sense of belonging and purpose. This could be through meditation or charity work.


5 sleep tips to share with your employees this month:

It can be tricky to help your employees get a better night’s sleep and making sure they’re addressing the 7 different types of rest. But there are some tips you could share:

  1. Encourage them to stick to a sleep schedule. For most of us, we need to get up at the same time every day, so we need to work out when that is and what time we need to go to bed to make sure we can get between 6 and 9 hours of sleep.
  2. For those who struggle with turning off before going to bed, there are a few things you could recommend including writing down any thoughts before bed to get them out of your head. This could be to do lists, or just anything on their mind.
  3. It’s all too easy to scroll through our phones in bed, but that’s not always best for our sleep and mental rest. Instead, try to encourage intentionally unplugging from your electronics before the end of the day. Including not replying to any work emails late at night.
  4. Remember to wind down. We will all struggle to sleep if we go from being active and on the go to trying to sleep without any relaxation time. There are many ways to chill out in the evening, from a warm bath to relaxation exercises like yoga or reading a book.
  5. Much like how our work environment needs to be set up correctly, our bedroom does too. It should be dark, quiet, tidy, and kept at a temperature between 18 and 24 hours.


How else you can help:

As well as offering some sleep tips to your employees, there are some initiatives you can bring in to help your employees.

If they’re experiencing stress or anxiety which is causing them to have trouble sleeping, it’s important to address that. An employee assistance programme can help. It will give your employees 24/7 access to BACP accredited counsellors, online, face-to-face, over the phone or email.

Money troubles can also cause us all to have sleepless nights. If that’s the case for your employees, you should look at offering financial wellbeing services such as financial education, employee loans and savings and debt consolidation.

For some, a lack of sleep can affect their health, or their difficulty sleeping could be caused by health issues. Which is why offering health screening can be really beneficial for your employee’s wellbeing.


How we can help:

We know it isn’t always easy to know how to offer a comprehensive staff wellbeing programme that benefits all employees. If you want to learn more about the ways you can support your employees health and wellbeing, why not get in touch with our experts? They can help guide you through solutions and plans you can put in place to help your staff.

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National Sleep Foundation – Sleep and Work
Employee Benefits – Sleep and Mental Health