It’s all in a good night’s sleep

Heather Buckeridge, Aviva clinical consultant nurse discusses how you can help you and your employees overcome problems sleeping.

Understandably, at the moment people might be sleeping poorly due to how the pandemic is affecting their lives. The amount of sleep your employees get can have a big impact on their wellbeing and how they perform during the workday.

In April 2019, we published an article about the UK’s struggle to switch off. We learned much from this research about the sleeping habits of the UK adult workforce. Our survey found 52% of UK adults believe they don’t get enough sleep and yet individuals consider it the most important element in maintaining their overall health. 

7 top tips to help your employees to sleep better

What people do when they’re awake often affects how well they sleep. To help you make sure your people are getting a good night’s sleep, here are some helpful tips for employees and employers: 

  1. Keep a regular pattern of behaviour around the time you go to bed at night and when you wake up each morning. To promote a consistent routine this should include weekends.
  2. Aim for seven hours a night – although it can be different for everyone, seven hours is the average amount of sleep people need to function well.
  3. Cut down on caffeine in the afternoon and evening as its effects can have an impact on your sleep for five to seven hours after consuming it.
  4. Set up a restful sleeping environment – create a calm, comfortable environment specifically for the purpose of sleep. Make sure you keep exercise equipment and other personal or work activities separate from the bedroom. Modern technology, such as computers, mobile phones, and television emit artificial light which can disturb the release of melatonin - our natural sleep stimulus. A cool, comfortable and quiet space will provide the right environment for quality sleep.
  5. Avoid food and alcohol just before bed –some foods and alcohol have been shown to create restlessness during the night and a disturbed sleep pattern.
  6. Take regular exercise – this enhances health and wellbeing and improves sleep. However, avoid aerobic activities in the late evening as it can hinder sleep in some individuals. Activities that promote relaxation such as pilates, yoga or meditation are more conducing to positive sleep behaviours.
  7. Keep a pen and paper by the bed – this can help if you have an active mind prone to considering options for either work or personal commitments once the lights are out, and provides an outlet for your thoughts to be penned.

Healthy people sleep better

As an employer, you can help your employees sleep better by offering health and wellbeing tools to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

Here are a few examples of what you could do:

  • Offer health promotion and awareness programmes that support a positive lifestyle and improve overall health through diet, exercise, and psychological wellbeing.
  • Even if employees are remote working, promote physical activities during employee work hours and encourage regular breaks and time away from workstations. 
  • Help employees to increase their health and wellbeing with non-smoking programmes or healthy lifestyle programmes.

Encouraging your staff to improve their sleep is good for everyone

Ultimately, helping your employees to enjoy a good night’s sleep is not only the responsible thing to do, it’s also good for business. 

Sleep deprivation and fatigue are not good for you, your employees or your business, so it’s worth looking at practical ways to help your employees to discover the pathway to sleep health.

After all, well-rested staff will be healthier, happier and more productive as employees.

For more support on wellbeing and practical advice on remote working, read our short guide (PDF 3.5MB).

Heather Buckeridge, RMN SRN RN BSc MA MSc

Heather qualified as a mental health and general nurse in the UK and a registered nurse in the USA in 1987. Alongside her nursing qualifications, she has a BSc in Health Promotion, a MA in Healthcare Law and Ethics, and a MSc in Mindfulness. 

She’s worked in the UK, South Africa, Canada and the USA, where she worked with large corporate customers promoting mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. She’s worked for Aviva Healthcare since 2000.

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