In a working world where many people realize burning the candle at both ends isn’t beneficial to employees or business, some companies hope to manage workers’ sleep habits to improve outcomes for everyone.
As more research shows the importance of sleep for quality work performance and a healthy lifestyle, it’s not lost on many companies that it’s to their benefit to make sure their employees stay rested.
Some companies go a step past concern, though, and seek advice about managing sleep and their employees’ sleep habits. It’s called corporate sleep management, and one group called Chestnut Global Partners has helped large, multinational companies in Australia, Africa, and the Middle East implement sleep management strategies for employees.
Dave Sharar, PhD, is the managing director at Chestnut Global Partners and says the program has two main aims: to help employees assess their sleep and improve both its length and quality, and to help improve their alertness, prevent accidents, and promote overall safety. The group provides companies with a comprehensive fatigue and sleep management program developed by an Australian company called Boylan Simpson & Simpson Corporate Psychology Services.
Chestnut Global Partners has consulted with many companies specifically about how sleep impacts worker safety.
“Since the program began 10 years ago, it’s been used by companies in Australia, Africa, and other parts around the world,” Sharar says. “One particularly vivid example involved a company operating a gold mine in Tanzania, where several accidents heightened awareness of the need to improve worker safety and safety-mindedness.”
In his line of work, he says company managers he consults with usually have a clear understanding of the importance of sleep. Especially in industries where safety is crucial, like mining, oil, gas, transportation, and construction, many companies embrace the concept of sleep management.
While many of these companies don’t currently have a practice in place to measure how managing sleep improves safety and business, Sharar says Chestnut is in the process of setting up a study to determine the outcomes.
Most of what Chestnut Global Partners recommends for companies and workers pertains to changes employees can make in their sleep habits at home as opposed to changes like installing sleep pods for naps in the workplace.
“Regarding naps, we make it clear that napping is not a substitute for regular sleep and there are some risks associated with it,” he says. “Even though naps can help, you can wake feeling groggy and impaired.”
Instead, he recommends a deeper analysis of sleep patterns and says it’s key to systematically improve sleep in 10 main ways:
- Spend 8 hours in bed each night
- Keep your sleeping time regular
- Go to bed early
- Relax before going to bed
- Eat long before you sleep
- Have a regular bedtime routine
- Have a hot bath or shower 30 minutes before bed
- Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and smoking before bed
- Make sure your room is quiet, dark, and cool
- Don’t stay in bed if you can’t fall asleep
Sharar also says that, because some people aren’t always the best judge of their own sleep quality, apps tracking sleep patterns like Fitbit, SleepTracker, and SleepBot can help greatly.
“The real challenge is in identifying the causes of poor quality sleep and taking specific steps—from changing bad habits to the sleep environment—to improve both the quality and duration of one’s sleep,” he says.
A.J. Zak is an associate editor for Sleep Review. Email questions or comments to [email protected].