Health and Well- Being
Sleeptember: Industries that rate their sleep as the best are I.T. and Finance
‘Sleeptember ‘ through the month of September, marked the start of an annual awareness that spotlights how to get a good night’s sleep and why it’s beneficial. Nuffield Health’s research reveals only 36 percent of employees are getting a good night’s rest, but noticeably IT and finance industries rate their sleep as the best
Nuffield Health’s 2023 ‘Healthier Nation Index’ – a survey of 8,000 UK adults - has highlighted that poor sleep is still a huge issue across the nation. On average Brits are only getting 5.91 hours of sleep a night, down from 6.11 in 2022 and 6.19 in 2021.
Of those surveyed, only 36 per cent said their sleep was ‘good’, with the average healthy adult needing 7.5 - 8.5 hours per night, equating to five sleep cycles.
This means the remaining 65 percent of those questioned feel they are not getting good quality sleep. Good quality sleep is about having the right balance of deep, slow-wave sleep and shallow, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep – where dreaming occurs.
This is especially concerning given 11 percent of respondents only get 2-4 hours of sleep per night and 36 percent only get 4-6 hours. Only 8 percent of us get more than the recommended 8 hours per night.
The study reveals that those in the 45-54 age bracket claim to have the worst sleep, with only 29 percent saying their sleep is ‘good’ and most averaging only 5.72 hours per night. The industries with the worst sleep, and least likely to rate their sleep as ‘good’, are Retail (32%) and HR (34%).
The industries with the highest proportions rating their sleep as ‘good’ are I.T. (48%) and Finance (44%), but noticeably for both industries, the proportions are still under half.
These findings are especially pertinent during September’s ‘Sleeptember’ campaign, which focuses on promoting better sleep quality.
The results suggest poor sleep quality reduces employee productivity, with 37 percent saying they are less productive after a poor night’s sleep. It also negatively impacts mental health, especially so in women, with 55 percent saying poor sleep has a negative impact on their emotional wellbeing, compared to just 41 percent of men.
When examining the different age brackets, it was 35–44 year-olds’ emotional wellbeing which was most affected by poor sleep, with 57 percent saying not getting enough sleep had a negative impact on their mental health.
The industries whose mental health is most affected by poor sleep include Architecture, Engineering & Building (56%), Education (55%), Retail (53%) and Healthcare (54%).
The relationship between mental health and sleep isn’t entirely understood but, according to neurochemistry studies, an adequate night’s sleep helps enhance mental and emotional resilience equally.
Chronic sleep disruptions might generate negative thinking and emotional sensitivity and research suggests poor sleep makes us twice as responsive to stress. It’s also thought treating insomnia may help alleviate the symptoms associated with anxiety and vice versa.
The study suggests there is also a link between sleep and financial wellbeing. As salary increases, so does the percentage of those who rate their sleep as ‘good’.
However, interestingly, there is a drop in one of the salary brackets. In total, 40 percent of those earning £45-55K reported their sleep as good, but this decreased to 36 percent for those earing £55-65k, before increasing again.
Luke Cousins, Physiology Regional Lead, at Nuffield Health commented, “There still exists a vital need for employers to be more attuned to the sleep needs of their staff and the potential role sleep has in improving employee physical and emotional wellbeing if businesses prioritise its importance.
“Companies should collaboratively engage with their healthcare partners to bolster sleep education, and provide the relevant employee benefits needed to support those struggling."
“Taking a holistic view on health – including offering interventions that cover the full range of risks – is the only way to get back to maximum wellbeing and create a healthier nation.”
Luke offers advice on how employers can play their part in creating holistic health interventions to enhance sleep quality among their workforces:
Some key considerations for banks before and during cloud adoption
Senior Analyst in GlobalData's Thematic Intelligence Team specialising in disruptive technologies.
#1 Lead by example
We know that poor sleep impacts our teams, but it has a negative effect on leadership styles too. Lack of sleep hinders your ability to employ self-control and makes it more likely you'll overreact, to difficult situations.
Inspiring the teams we lead is important but perceived charisma of leaders decreases by 13 percent when they lose just two hours of sleep.
Leaders can have a negative indirect impact on teamwork through sleep devaluation. This is when managers demonstrate behaviours like sending emails late at night, boasting about working late or praising others that do the same.
The effect this has on our teams is huge. Employees pay attention to these signals and may match their behaviour accordingly. Managers need to lead from the top down here and ensure they are sending the right messages to their teams. Try not to stay late and openly address the myths surrounding sleep and productivity.
Employees should also be encouraged to work around their natural sleep patterns where possible, for example, avoiding scheduling early-morning or late-evening calls.
#2 Prioritise sleep in your wellbeing strategies
Discuss with HR and other senior departments how to prioritise sleep management in your current health and wellbeing strategies, to complement other elements like nutrition and exercise.
Employees may not even realise they are having difficulties due to their poor sleep, so line managers should receive the right training to recognise the signs and offer support when required. This creates an open dialogue around sleep concerns and shows a discussion about sleep is both welcomed and expected in the workplace and support plans can be created.
#3 Signpost to support
As suggested by our study, stress from outside the world of work - like finances, addiction, or family problems - can negatively impact sleep. Overall, 36 percent and 35 percent of individuals said stress and anxiety respectively were keeping them awake at night. These were the two biggest factors impacting sleep, followed by financial concerns (21%).
Businesses should provide wellbeing support through external services. Cognitive behavioural therapy is an effective therapy to treat insomnia. The treatment is referred to as CBT-I and can be used instead of sleeping tablets and basic sleep hygiene techniques.
CBT-I considers how your thoughts and beliefs about sleep may be influencing your sleep behaviours. CBT will look at your behaviours and habits around sleep and introduce techniques like relaxation and sleep restriction.
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) or counselling can also offer direct, confidential contact with experts who can support individuals who feel their mental health is impacted by poor sleep.
#4 Encourage lifestyle changes outside of work too
Responsible businesses should try to find ways to encourage lifestyle changes outside of work, to help boost the effects of the internal employee benefits they offer.
For example, emphasising the benefits of exercise in regulating sleep patterns, just not right before bed, as we remain in an ‘activated’ mode for a while after exercising, making it difficult to sleep.
Suggesting an outdoor run or power walk during lunch hours not only gets employees away from their desks but exposes them to natural daylight, promoting healthy sleep hormone cycles.
Running internal talks and inviting health experts to discuss the impact of poor sleep and how to support those experiencing poor sleep, can be beneficial. For example, you could run a session on sleep hygiene, which focuses on simple habits staff can adopt to improve the quality of their sleep, like establishing a non-negotiable bedtime routine and limiting their use of electronics when the working day is over.
You can see the full findings of Nuffield Health’s latest Healthier Nation Index here