Help your plan members be productive by sleeping soundly
September 9, 2022
For plan members, sponsors and administrators
Few things beat a good night’s sleep. A good sleep helps with a range of critical body functions, restores your energy, helps repair muscle tissue and boosts both your metabolism and immune system. And it improves your mental health by refining your cognitive skills and regulating emotions. At the same time, poor sleep can contribute to – and worsen – mental health problems including depression and other mood, anxiety, and attention deficit disorders.
The sad effects of poor sleep
Eric Pfeiffer, Senior Workplace Well-being Consultant at Manulife, suggests building sleep hygiene routines that promote good quality sleep. “Seven to nine hours of sleep a night is recommended for optimal health for most people,” he says. “But this isn’t always easy to achieve. Manulife’s 2021 Wellness Report found that 29% of employees get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep a night. And the leading cause behind these sleep disruptions is work-related stress.”
“Without question, a lack of sleep takes its toll on our mental abilities – our mental reasoning skills suffer, our decision-making processes become challenged and our ability to learn is affected.” This may result in making mistakes on the job, poor performance and productivity. “Very, very few people can function well when they get less than 6 or 7 hours of sleep,” Pfeiffer says.
Your emotional capacity is also stressed. Think about the last time you had a poor night of sleep. You likely got up the next morning feeling groggy, irritable – and even anxious and lacking concentration and focus. This makes a full, productive workday impossible, which heightens feelings of stress. It also makes it harder for you to cope with even the smallest of challenges in daily life which may impact your personal relationships, too.
A chronic lack of sleep can also affect your physical health, increasing the risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and diabetes.1
A better way for your plan members to get great ZZZ’s…
- Give yourself a bedtime and wake-time
Try to maintain a steady sleep schedule, even on the weekends. Just as importantly, try and get up at the same time each morning. We’re creatures of habit, so getting into a routine is a helpful way to prepare our bodies for more consistent sleeping patterns.
- De-stress – before the mattress
Wind down in the evenings as it gets closer to bedtime. Light a candle. Read a book. Or try relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and light stretching.
- Skip the late afternoon caffeine
Save your coffee for the morning. You’ll thank yourself for avoiding caffeine (as well as reducing alcohol) at least 4 hours before bedtime. If you’re more sensitive to the stimulant, avoid caffeine from midday.
- Bye-bye evening tech
Dimming the lights and putting away your phone or smart device helps prepare the body for sleep. Try to charge your phone in a separate room, so you’re not tempted to use it late at night. For more on this, read about the link between technology and mental health.
- Good sleep starts during the day
Practice healthy habits like regular exercise and try to get natural light exposure during the day. This will help to regulate your body’s sleep-wake cycle.
- Get tracking
Most wearable devices now offer sleep tracking functionality. This means you’re able to monitor your sleep patterns for a clearer view of how you’re sleeping. This data can then help you to make adjustments to improve your sleep quantity and quality.
- Stay cool
Lowering the temperatures by a few degrees can make a difference. Many people find a room temperature of about 18 C helps their sleep.
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