What makes you feel more energised, productive and happier? Whilst many would answer the question with perhaps caffeine, a yoga session or flexible working, countless research points to something less obvious, but surprisingly, free – sleep.
Whilst sleep has several health benefits, with a lack of precious slumber increasing the risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, and a shorter life expectancy, it’s also good for the economy.
According to research, the annual cost of a lack of sleep to the UK economy is £40billion. And, as an employee, it’s also good for your bank balance. A study from the University of California at San Diego and Williams College in Massachusetts found that by adding one extra hour of sleep per night, wages could be boosted by five per cent.
However, several Britons are failing to get the recommended seven - nine hours of kip per night. A recent survey from Hillary’s found that only 11% of the UK workforce thought they were getting enough sleep - with stress and caffeine intake two of the most common reasons for this.
But could the type of career you’re in heighten the possibility of missing out on those precious zeds?
According to a 2018 study from Perkbox, there are certain careers that are more likely to cause stress, subsequently impacting sleep quality or ability to fall asleep quickly.
The top five most stressful jobs in the UK were found to be:
Welfare (Social Care)
Teaching & Education
Business, Research & Administration
This tallies with the Hillarys report, which found that healthcare, law enforcement and teachers were the industries where workers claim to get the least sleep – all under five hours a night.
Professor Jim Horne previously spoke to Executive Grapevine about the dangers of a lack of sleep. “Most work situations require individuals to make critical decisions, remain focussed and complete tasks within a timely and efficient manner,” he said.
“The longer a person is awake, the more likely their mood is to be negatively affected, as well as their willingness to take risks in the workplace. This could be cause for concern.”
Whilst employers can’t control the amount of shut-eye their staff get, they can negate the impact of stress, by encouraging better mental wellbeing.
Karen Penny, Vice President and General Manager, American Express GCP UK, tells us how employers can offer support. ‘’Businesses should begin by focusing on helping leaders identify when people are showing signs of poor mental health, including anxiety or stress,” she says. “The best way of doing this is through training. By equipping managers to spot warning signs in their colleagues early on, businesses are better able to ensure employees get the support they need sooner.
“Support for mental health initiatives has traditionally fallen to HR; I think it’s important that we take more of this work into the business, helping leaders understand what the company can do in this area, and making them better placed to support the employees they are responsible for.’’