Jul 18, 2019 | Updated: 10:03 AM EDT

Workplace Interventions May Improve Employees’ Sleep Habits

May 14, 2019 01:17 PM EDT

Workplace Interventions May Improve Employees’ Sleep Habits and Duration
(Photo : Image by Olichel Adamovich from Pixabay)

In a recent review, simple workplace interventions such as educating employees about the essence of sleep and providing behavioral sleep strategies may produce beneficial results.

Results reveal that in most studies, employer-sponsored efforts to encourage improved sleep hygiene and healthier habits have yielded improvements in sleep duration and sleep quality, as well as a decrease in self-reported sleepiness complaints.

Though the most common workplace interventions were educational programs emphasizing sleep hygiene or fatigue management, other interventions included napping at specific times before or after work, urging increased daytime activity levels, modifying workplace environmental characteristics including lighting, and screening and referral for sleep disorders treatment.

The lead author of the study and a Beatrice Renfield Term Professor of Nursing at the Yale School of Nursing in Orange, Connecticut, Nancy S. Redeker, PhD., RN, FAHA, FAAN, said that these studies suggest employer-sponsored efforts can improve sleep and sleep-related outcomes. Also, improving sleep lead to a better quality of life and decreased absenteeism from work.

The researchers published the review in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and Sleep Research Society (SRS) conducted the review as part of the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project, a five-year cooperative agreement that concluded in 2018.

The researchers provide 12 suggested workplace strategies that employers can implement to promote healthy sleep among their workforce. These strategies include:

  •  Having a set limit on the number of hours worked per 24 hours and per 7-day period
  •  Establishing a minimum of 10 to 11 consecutive hours off from work per 24-hour period for workers to obtain at least 7 hours of sleep
  •  Providing a sleep education program for all employees
  •  Promoting the use of short naps during work breaks
  •  Establishing fatigue risk management systems
  •  Establishing a system to facilitate workers with sleep problems seeing a health care provider or an accredited sleep disorder center
  •  Modifying environmental factors including lighting to promote workers' well-being and alertness

The researchers investigated a systematic search and a selective narrative review of studies published from 1966 to December 2017. A total of 60 papers met the inclusion criteria and were included in the narrative review. Information that they extracted included types of workplaces, occupations of the workers, types of interventions, and sleep-related outcomes.

Based on these characteristics, the authors identified three major categories of sleep interventions, namely, educational interventions, interventions focused on health promotion behaviors that might improve sleep such as physical activity, and interventions focused on workplace environmental modifications to promote sleep.

In their notes, the authors of the studies concluded that one of the limitations of the review was the heterogeneity of study designs, populations, and outcomes which did not allow for a meta-analysis. There is a pressing need for additional research on the effectiveness of workplace interventions to improve sleep.

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