I am certain that if we carried out a survey on the employees who sleep between six to eight hours, the number would run quite low compared to the same number about ten years back
In today’s business world a lot of people pride themselves in the least hours of sleep and more hours of work and even being able to juggle up to three jobs in a day. From world-renown billionaires to your next seat colleague, it is becoming a norm to sleep less and fewer hours, forgetting that there are some repercussions tied down to sleep deprivation.
Executives like Tesla CEO Elon Musk has claimed there have been times when he hasn’t left his factory “for three or four days”; former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer says she can work a 130-hour workweek by only sleeping for four hours per night (she even missed and executives dinner at some point), US President Donald Trump has claimed to sleep for just three to four hours per night.
However, other executives like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg have stated severally in his interviews that he wakes up at 8 am, sometimes later if he stayed up late chatting with programmers. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos avoids morning meetings to eat a healthy breakfast with his wife and kids. “I just feel so much better all day long if I’ve had eight hours of sleep,” he said in an interview.
And Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates emphasize the importance of at least 7 hours of sleep to be creative. In 1997, he confessed envy of short sleepers. This moves to show that sleep patterns differ from different people and success doesn’t really rely on few hours of sleep.
Japan is one of the countries known for its high numbers of workaholics. You might have come across this word Karoshi, which can be translated literally as “overwork death” in Japanese. The major medical causes of karoshi deaths are heart attacks and stroke due to stress and a starvation diet.
This intense Karoshi culture is a product of Japan’s postwar era, where, to get the country’s economic engines running, Prime Minister Shigeru Yoshida enlisted major corporations to offer their employees lifelong job security, asking only that workers repay them with loyalty.
Employees who spent longer on the job were rewarded for decades until employees started suffering from health effects, and in rare cases, dying.
Japan has recorded several of these deaths. In a whitepaper released by Japan Government sometime back, the research showed that one in five employees were at risk of death from overwork.
The whitepaper revealed that more than 2,000 Japanese killed themselves due to work-related stress in 2015 to March 2016, while dozens of other victims died from heart attacks, strokes and other conditions brought on by spending too much time at work.
This is not just unique to Japan though. It’s no secret that most of us don’t get enough sleep and suffer for it. If you’re between the ages of 16 and 64 and don’t get seven to nine hours of sleep per night, your logical reasoning, executive function, attention, and mood can be impaired.
Worse, severe sleep deprivation can lead to depression, anxiety, and symptoms of paranoia. In the long run, sleep deprivation is the main contributor to the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
While sleep deprivation can cause all kinds of problems on more personal level anxiety, depression, and weight gain, among many others it also harms work performance.
More and more executives value their sleep
It’s more interesting to even find out that one group that doesn’t need to heed these warnings is executives. An article by Harvard Business School stated that the more senior a person’s role is, the more sleep they get.
There are two possible explanations for this. Either senior executives, with the help of assistants and hard-working middle managers, do less and take more time for sleep. Or senior executives have had the wisdom and discipline throughout their careers to get enough sleep and thereby maintain a high-performance level without burning out.
Just like poor diet and lack of exercise, poor sleeping habits also lead to people becoming less productive and more prone to illness. In other words, poor sleeping habits in employees are costly for employers.
According to research, Sleep disturbances contribute to decreased employee productivity at a high cost to employers and Lack of sleep and Fatigue-related productivity losses were estimated to cost $1967/employee annually.
Why is it important for your employees to get enough sleep
First, well-rested employees are able to stay focused on the job at hand and make sound decisions that improve productivity. This goes a long way to help employees sleep and concentrate on their job as well as avoid procrastination.
Secondly, time and time again research finds that sleep deprivation can impair cognitive skills including creative thinking and the ability to problem-solve. In contrast, getting adequate, high-quality sleep can give these skills a boost. Therefore one of the keys to having an innovative workforce is to ensure your employees consistently get enough sleep.
Getting enough sleep can also reduce the risk of making errors on the job and prevent burnout. Sleep is essential for workers to perform their best in virtually every role and every aspect of the workplace.
What companies are doing to enhance sleeping habits among employees
Companies and Governments have been trying to get sleep taken more seriously. For example, Google has installed nap pods into some of its offices, while Nike’s US headquarters has rooms where staff can sleep or relax.
Goldman Sachs brings in trainers to educate its employees about the importance of sleep, and Johnson & Johnson provides its employees with digital health coaching programs aimed at combating insomnia and help employees sleep well.
Governments like the France Government has introduced a ‘right to disconnect’ law, which states that companies with more than 50 staff have to draw up protocols to stop work drifting into weekends and after they finish their daily shifts. Suggestions have included stopping work emails after normal working hours.
The Japan Government also introduced a cap monthly overtime at 100 hours and introduced penalties for companies that allow their employees to exceed the limit
It is not any different here though, coworking spaces like Nairobi Garage, also understand that being an entrepreneur is quite tasking, we have some napping areas and relaxing points to help our members take some time off their work and relax and improve on their productivity.
So how do you get back on track?
Well, the most basic form of sleep deprivation treatment is getting more sleep.
However, according to a 2017 McKinsey report, it is estimated that the sleep-health industry is worth around $30-40billion, with growth at eight per cent per year.
However, today, technology has invaded the bedroom with more distractions available but also potentially useful tools.
Through the use of technology, consumers can access more information about their sleeping patterns and behaviour through these great innovations.
From Smartwatches that include wrist-based heart rate monitors, which can tell when the wearer is asleep, determine how much time is spent sleeping each night and determine the quality of sleep by how restless a person is to mobile apps that play music to help you sleep.
There are even mats filled with sensors that one can place under their sheets to m, lights that replicate sunrise, headbands that monitor brain activity, pyjamas made with a heat-regulating material, and even a robot which you hug to help you sleep.
Apart from technology, there are other ways that you can improve and get back on track with a healthy sleep schedule this includes:
If you continue to have problems sleeping at night and are fighting daytime fatigue, talk to your doctor. They can test for underlying health conditions that might be getting in the way of your sleep schedule.
Sleep habits vary widely, even with successful businessmen and women. Less sleep doesn’t guarantee more success, and in some cases can do the opposite. More sleep, without good reason, can just be laziness.
Sleep allows you to do what you love when you’re awake. If your sleep habits prevent a healthy and balanced lifestyle, it might not be worth forcing an unnatural sleep schedule on your body.
Instead, explore what works best for you and stick to it to get the most out of your waking hours.