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The link between quality sleep and productivity

It’s no secret — the average adult is sleep deprived.

This article was last updated on February 18, 2019

It's no big secret that American adults are sleep deprived. In fact, it's such an important piece of overall health and productivity that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seven or more hours of sleep External Site per night for optimal well-being.

But 1 in 3 Americans are lacking the sleep they need.

The true cost of employees who are sleep deprived

Poor sleep habits are associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and more. On top of that, a Harvard research study External Site found insomnia leads to the loss of 11.3 days’ worth of productivity each calendar year for an average worker. When the study calculated cost impact, that’s equal to $2,280 per worker!

Not only do we need to get enough sleep, we need quality sleep, too. A poor night’s sleep leaves us feeling tired even after getting enough sleep, and it can be caused by waking up frequently during the night or snoring or gasping for air.

Snoring could be more than just a habit; it may be a sign of sleep apnea External Site.

This sleep disorder External Site, affecting nearly 22 million Americans, can reduce or stop normal breathing and momentarily interrupts sleep. If you experience loud snoring, gasping for air during sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, or any of these other symptoms, External Link make sure to tell your personal doctor Opens in a new window.

When should employees consider sleep evaluations?

If the doctor has ruled out other potential causes of disrupted sleep, like a nasal obstruction, they may recommend completing a sleep study. Overnight sleep studies measure several things (breathing rate, blood oxygen level and heart rate) and can be completed in a hospital, sleep center or at home. All settings will provide a complete evaluation of your sleep, but home-based studies let you be comfortable in your own space.

Home-based or facility-based sleep: What's the difference?

The biggest difference between sleep-study settings is cost. A home-based sleep study runs a few hundred dollars, while a facility-based sleep study can cost into the thousands1. But home-based studies aren't a one-size-fits-all solution. A facility-based study may be the best option — and considered medically necessary — for people with certain medical conditions or if the doctor suspects a disorder other than sleep apnea.

The importance of healthy sleep habits

Sleep shouldn't be a luxury; it's a pivotal component of overall good health. “As a nation, we are not getting enough sleep,” said Wayne Giles, M.D., director of CDC’s Division of Population Health. “Lifestyle changes such as going to bed at the same time each night; rising at the same time each morning; and turning off or removing televisions, computers, mobile devices from the bedroom, can help people get the healthy sleep they need.”

Six tips to a better night of sleep

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Be consistent: Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends.

Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing and at a comfortable temperature.

Remove electronic devices, such as TVs, computers, and smart phones, from the bedroom.

Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bedtime.

Avoid tobacco/nicotine.

Get some exercise: Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.

For an article geared toward your employees, check out Putting your sleep to the test Opens in a new window from BlueSM magazine.

The importance of a holistic well-being approach.

At Wellmark, we know your business, and we have insights and data on your employees that you may not have in-house. We can serve as an extension of your workforce and provide expertise in creating engaging solutions to meet the unique needs of your organization. Every step of the way, your Wellmark health and well-being consultant will be there as your go-to source for finding the right combination of solutions — because one-size doesn't fit all.

Interested in learning more about Wellmark's employer well-being and consulting services? Contact your authorized Wellmark account representative today.

1Please note: As of April 12, 2018, your provider will have to get prior approval from Wellmark for facility-based sleep studies. Prior approval is not required for home-based sleep studies.