What do we need to be a more productive and reliable worker? Seven to eight hours of shuteye each night, not an hour more nor an hour less!
A new study in the medical journal Sleep shows that workers who get seven to eight hour of sleep are likely to take fewer sick days than those who sleep fewer or more hours. In a survey of sleep habits of 3,760 men and women (aged 30 to 64) in Finland over a period of 7.2 years, researchers found a telling association between sleep disturbances and missed work.
The findings showed that sleep duration alone could act as a predictor of sickness-related absence. People getting seven to eight hours of sleep clocked an average of 9 to 10 fewer sick days per year than others. On the other hand, groups with lower or higher sleep hours recorded high numbers of sick days.
However, researchers do caution that there’s more to be learned about the relationship between sleep and work, and that there is a certain degree of individuality to sleep needs. And while the ideal style of sleep is a matter of considerable debate, the key seems to be getting enough of different types of sleep, each of which serves a different function (such as body repairs and cognitive processing).
While individual needs and sleeping styles may vary, there is an important takeaway from the Sleep study. Minimizing sleep disturbances can drastically improve performance. Researchers estimated that direct costs due to sickness absence could decrease by up to 28 percent if sleep problems were to be fully addressed. In an increasingly 24/7 world, the substantiated strength of this claim may wake businesses up to the importance of sleep.