StayWell, a health solutions company, undertook study on the association between sleep, absenteeism, and on-the-job productivity loss. With health risk assessment data from nearly 600,000 employees representing over a dozen industries across 66 companies, it is the largest study of its kind. Published in the American Journal of Health Promotion (AJHP), the study is available via SAGE Publications.

Key study findings reveal that employees who are getting too much or too little sleep can suffer from on-the-job productivity loss. Specifically:

  • Employees sleeping 10 or more hours per night missed an average of 1.6 times more days of work due to illness and averaged 2.2 times more productivity loss than employees who slept 8 hours per night.
  • With 5 or fewer hours of sleep each night, employees averaged 1.5 times more days absent and 1.9 times as much productivity loss as employees who reported 8 hours of sleep per night.
  • Employees who reported “almost always” feeling tired during the day averaged 2.7 times more days absent and 4.4 times more productivity loss than employees who reported “almost never” feeling tired.

“The National Sleep Foundation recommends adults under 65 years old get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night, yet 30% of adult employees report fewer than 6 hours of sleep nightly,” says Stefan Gingerich, senior research analyst at StayWell and principal investigator on this study, in a release. “Poor sleep habits have been tied to weight gain, stress, and higher levels of illness. While these relationships are complicated, it’s becoming more apparent that these factors have the potential to influence employee productivity and attendance, making it important for employers to hone in on sleep issues now.”

Recognizing the correlation between sleep and productivity, StayWell has increasingly focused its employee well-being solutions on improving quality of sleep. In late 2016, for example, StayWell released a Sleep Learning Series to build an understanding of sleep-related issues, such as how diet and exercise, lifestyle behaviors, and daily stress affect sleep patterns and quality. In addition, StayWell offers a digital sleep solution within its self-directed coaching product, as well as a daily sleep challenge. The company also recently launched Refresh Care, aimed at improving physicians’ sleep, and offers sleep scoring as a part of its broader Well Being Profile.

“There are many simple things a person can do to start realizing the benefits of a good night’s sleep,” says Hans Hage, senior vice president of product and innovation. “Through our numerous programs and continued emphasis, StayWell is committed to improving the quality, quantity, and regularity of sleep for all of those who take advantage of our services.”