I’ve written a few times about the enormous benefits sleep has on our life and career. Not only are we usually much happier and productive when we’re well rested, but we also tend to succumb to bad behaviour much less frequently as our will power is not reduced by fatigue.
A recent study that highlights how our work can be impacting our sleep levels should be a significant wake up call. It found that the quantity and quality of sleep we obtain each night was influenced by the conflict we so often feel between our work and social lives. Indeed, it discovered that when employees participanted in some kind of intervention to reduce this work/life conflict their sleep generally rose by at least an hour each week.
"Increasing family-supportive supervision and employee control over work time benefited the sleep of hundreds of employees, and even greater effects may be possible if sleep is overtly addressed in workplace interventions," the authors explain. "The Work, Family, and Health Network Study intervention was designed to reduce work-family conflict. It did not directly address sleep, yet sleep benefits were observed."
The study saw employees at an American technology company analysed to determine how their work/life balance was impacting their sleep quality. Participants were selected for an intervention to reduce any apparent conflict between the two, with the intervention typically consisting of things such as role-playing, games and discussions between managers and employees.
The managers in the experiment were also trained in what the researchers termed ’family supportive supervision’.
Twelve months after the interventions, data was collected on the progress of participants. The data was collected via a series of qualitative interviews and monitoring patterns in both sleep and waking life using monitors attached to the wrists of participants. These devices measured the sleep quality and quantity before and after the interventions to try and gauge a trend.
The results showed that the interventions typically had a marked impact upon the sleep patterns of participants.
"This study demonstrates that interventions unrelated to sleep can improve sleep in the population. Furthermore, these findings serve as a reminder that there are opportunities to deploy innovative interventions to improve sleep," the authors say.
The results suggest that not only did the interventions improve sleep quality for the participants, but they did so as a result of the improvement in work/life balance for each participant. The authors believe this is clear evidence of the benefits of such an approach by employers and employees alike.
"Here we showed that an intervention focused on changing the workplace culture could increase the measured amount of sleep employees obtain, as well as their perception that their sleep was more sufficient," the authors conclude. "Work can be a calling and inspirational, as well as a paycheck, but work should not be detrimental to health. It is possible to mitigate some of the deleterious effects of work by reducing work-family conflict, and improving sleep."
How do you feel your own work/life balance influences your sleep levels? Would your employer consider this kind of mediation to improve things? Your thoughts and comments below...