As the days grow shorter, an increasing number of employees are finding it difficult to achieve sound sleep. As daylight saving time (DST) concludes this weekend, a staggering two-thirds of employees believe the change will significantly influence their sleep routines. The aftermath? A domino effect on their mental well-being and overall work performance, as revealed in a recent study by wellness platform, Calm.
Key Findings from Calm’s “Snooze Report”:
- 91% of adults feel unrested at least occasionally.
- Over half resort to sleep aids, marijuana, or alcohol for rest.
- Bad sleep is linked to deteriorating mental health for 78% of the participants.
- Sleep-deprived employees are 70% more susceptible to workplace accidents.
- Annual loss due to low productivity and absenteeism from poor sleep: $44.6 billion.
The Origins of Daylight Saving Time
Contrary to widespread assumptions, the agricultural sector wasn’t the driving force behind daylight saving time. Historical sources, such as The History Channel, indicate that farmers were starkly against the time shift when first introduced on March 31, 1918, as a wartime strategy.
Daylight Saving Time: A Curse for Productivity?
The long-standing practice of DST has scarcely contributed to energy savings. Instead, it appears to be a significant drain on individual and collective productivity. This dip in efficiency is mainly due to the disruption in our natural 24-hour cycle, also known as the circadian rhythm. Christopher Barnes from the University of Washington notes that post-DST, many individuals lose up to 40 minutes of sleep, causing fatigue, impaired concentration, and memory issues. This loss in sleep and productivity has wider societal implications too, with a noticeable surge in traffic accidents and workplace injuries post the time change in March.
Health Implications of DST:
- Increased risk of ischemic stroke after DST transition.
- Disruption in diet and appetite leads to overeating.
- General feelings of sluggishness and increased mistakes at work.
Navigating Through the DST Productivity Slump
Although ditching DST might seem like the best solution, it remains a fixed event for many. Here’s a list of effective strategies to safeguard productivity levels during this period:
- Adapt Early: Start adjusting to the new sleep schedule several days ahead. Seek Light: Sunlight is ideal, but in its absence, a lightbox works.
- Stay Active & Eat Right: Exercise to combat fatigue and opt for brain foods, limiting caffeine post-lunch.
- Nap Wisely: If you’re feeling sleep-deprived, ensure your nap doesn’t exceed 20 minutes.
- Plan Your Meetings: Refrain from scheduling meetings on the Monday immediately after DST.
- Prioritize Tasks: Reserve the Monday post-DST for light tasks, saving intensive tasks for later in the week.
- Work from Home: To avert accidents or workplace mishaps, consider working remotely the day following the time switch.
Cultivating a Sleep-Positive Work Environment
The broader implication from Calm’s report suggests that employers hold a significant stake in improving the physical and mental health of their employees. A fundamental way to do so is by emphasizing the importance of good sleep hygiene. Scott Domann, Calm’s Chief People Officer, underscores the importance of establishing a workplace that fosters a balance between rest and work. “As employers, we should be asking ourselves how we can cultivate a culture that encourages rest and breaks during the day,” he asserts.
Employers can offer resources, such as the “Sleep Hotline” launched by Calm, which provides access to sleep sounds, stories, and exercises. They can also initiate conversations around sleep, serving as a gateway to broader discussions on mental health at work. As Domann rightly points out, “Sleep is a universal unifier for employers and employees.”
The challenges presented by DST underscore the imperative need for businesses to prioritize employee wellness. As the data suggests, both productivity and safety are at stake. As society continues to grapple with the impacts of DST, a proactive approach to sleep wellness might be the silver lining employers and employees need, to thrive in today’s demanding work environment.