Good sleep means good business. Google and Nike know it

Do you find yourself waking up in the morning still tired and wishing you could take a nap by 10 a.m.? You can't function without a dose of caffeine, you snooze your alarm until the last possible moment, you can't concentrate, and all the revision in the world isn’t helping you to remember everything you need to know for your exams? If you answered ‘yes’ to some of these questions, then you probably aren’t getting enough sleep. Everyone knows that a balanced diet and exercise are important to health and wellbeing, but we often forget that sleep is just as important.

More than a third of adults in all developed countries do not get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep at night, depriving themselves of one of the most effective ways to restore the health of their brain and body on a daily basis. And while the odd night reduced sleep isn’t a major health concern, regularly sleeping less than six hours a night will set you up for a big problem. Some companies know this and therefore try to accommodate their emploeyess. 

At Google and Nike, they respect your biorhythm

There are several ways to encourage and motivate employees to get enough sleep: some companies provide free sleep hygiene courses, while others change the levels and wavelength of office lighting throughout the day to help regulate melatonin cycles. Others, including Nike and Google, have more relaxed working hours that allow employees to time their work to suit their individual biorhythms, so whether someone is an early bird, a night owl, or something in between, they can tailor their working hours to suit their sleep pattern. Other companies take a different approach, allowing employees to nap on the job with dedicated rest rooms.

Learn to work with fatigue, exhaustion and stress

Fatigue, exhaustion and stress – all things with a close relationship to sleep. Participants on X-tream management courses are taught how to work with them by experienced trainers. According to Vratislav Pokorný, one of the course lecturers, it is important to take care of yourself and to consciously manage your sleep. He and his colleagues try to teach course participants how to do this: "The purpose is for participants to recognise their own sleep pattern and discover their own way to relax and optimise themselves for performance," he explains.

Employees who don't value their sleep are not good employees

Sleep deprivation negatively affects a number of key skills that are essential in the workplace but, although companies often have policies on employee behaviour, safety, and smoking, sleep deprivation is usually tolerated and sometimes, sadly, encouraged. Too often, companies praise workers who reply to emails until 1 a.m. and then arrive at the office before 6 a.m. So why do companies value employees who don't value their own sleep? In most cases, this is because managers mistakenly equate time spent working with productivity and dedication.

Late to bed again? You're damaging your own intelligence and emotional stability

Sleep deprivation systematically damages creative thinking, intelligence, motivation, effort, and effectiveness in working independently. When working as part of a team, it damages emotional stability, honesty and sociability. Sleep also acts as a memory support, helping to move memories and knowledge from short- to long-term memory storage centres in our brains – If you don't sleep enough, you may develop memory problems.

Beyond just caring about their employees health, these are very good reasons for why companies should pay attention to whether their employees are getting enough sleep — these qualities are all vitally important to performance. Having lots of employees underperforming across such a wide range of areas will inevitably have a negative impact on a company's overall performance. "Companies should assess whether a person is tired in such a way that they need to stop an activity or use a technique to enable them to continue the activity without a significant drop in performance," according to Vratislav Pokorny.

You may think you're performing at the same level, but you’re not

Shorter sleep means slower work performance and more time taken to complete basic tasks. In addition, sleepy employees come up with fewer and worse possible solutions to problems – another thing that’s tested in X-tream management training. "When a person is exhausted, this shows up in mental tests as a change in the quantity and quality of their performance. These are tests of intelligence, attention, memory and more. A person may think they are performing the same, or even better, but in reality that is not the case. They may do well quantitatively, but make a higher percentage of errors and they may also experience short-term memory lapses. These are indicators that a person is not in optimal condition," says Vratislav Pokorný. Among other things, sleep deprivation also affects job satisfaction, with sleep-deprived employees often being less satisfied with their jobs.

Try conscious relaxation instead of sleeping pills

Have you tried everything but your brain is still running at full speed before bedtime? Instead of sleeping pills, try mindful relaxation. Managers and other people who are highly productive and, as a result, mentally busy, often work late into the evening. This keeps their brains working hard in the evening. According to Vratislav Pokorný, the key is to control the brain and learn to work with your thinking and consciousness by using conscious relaxation. "You give yourself the cognitive instruction that it is time to go to sleep, the duration, what should happen during sleep and what should happen at the end. One works by autosuggestive process and with one's own imagination. By giving yourself these instructions, you teach your mind to function in this way and train it to be disciplined," he says, describing this method, which he says has been very effective for many people.

In the next article, we will bring you tips for better sleep.