Today’s professionals are always in a hurry. Fast-paced multitasking is the norm. First one meeting, then another. When you finally manage to sit down and get to work on that neglected report, your boss calls to talk about a different project. Then your cell phone rings: a friend wants to meet for drinks, but you have to hang up on him. According to the World Health Organization, stress is a global epidemic. Once it takes hold, it is quick to take its toll, causing health problems and a significant drop in productivity at work. Have you stopped to think about how much sleep you’ve gotten lately? If not, consider this: occupational stress has a negative effect on your ability to rest. Beyond the physical problems it entails, stress can hamper your ability to concentrate and make decisions, which in turn can wreak havoc on your professional life.
Five main factors influence aging and well-being: rest, nutrition, stress, physical activity, and social relations. Organizations bear a lot of responsibility for the impact that these factors have on people.
According to a study by the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, around 70% of people have trouble sleeping at night. Being well-rested helps you stay active and focused during working hours. Companies can improve employee productivity and reduce absenteeism by promoting good rest routines. And since “you are what you eat,” companies should also promote good employee nutrition by making healthy products available in the lunchroom and vending machines. Take a minute to analyze your company’s catering services. You may be surprised at the number of ultra-processed foods on offer. These items have a harmful effect on employee health.
As for stress management, the human resources department should promote expert-backed mental-health initiatives to help employees focus on what really matters. These programs can and should include physical activity. Indeed, exercise should be sacred for everyone, including top executives at major companies. Finally, social relations are of the utmost importance: frequent and varied interactions with other people are associated with greater longevity.
The first step toward resting well is to clear your bedroom of all electronics (Wi-Fi, cell phones, television, etc.). Your bedroom should resemble an incubator—free of all electromagnetic contamination.
Measuring sleep quality
Thanks to technological advances in measurement and analysis, we now know that the classic gold standard—eight hours of sleep per night—isn’t necessarily enough to keep a person well-rested. You may be clocking the recommended number of hours, but just how well are you resting during that time? According to a forthcoming study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, sleep quality has a direct influence on the immune system.
Factors such as exposure to pollution, electromagnetic radiation, and the characteristics of the rest system also have specific biological effects. Innovative rest systems can provide stimuli that have a positive impact at the cellular level, favoring chemotaxis, phagocytosis, natural melatonin production, and natural killer cell activity, while reducing oxidation and inflammation. In short, high-quality rest activates defense mechanisms that prevent disease, according to polysomnographic and biochemical studies of the effects of controlled rest on the human body.
As for exogenous variables, the first step toward resting well is to clear your bedroom of all electronics (Wi-Fi, cell phones, television, etc.). To maximize the effectiveness of your sleep time, your bedroom should resemble, as closely as possible, an incubator—free of all electromagnetic contamination. Set the thermostat to 20°C, eat at least two hours before bedtime, wear organic cotton pajamas, and sleep on a bed made from natural materials, not springs and petroleum derivatives.
Moody, sleep-deprived employees are less creative, less innovative, and less effective in customer-facing roles.
A critical issue
The technical details involved in the issue of rest are beyond the scope of most professionals’ expertise. Hence, companies are responsible for applying policies that improve the quality of employee rest time. For reasons of health, well-being, and economic impact, businesses have an interest in promoting rest-related initiatives.
Besides enhancing well-being, high-quality rest also has a notable effect on productivity. Well-rested employees are considerably more productive than their rest-deprived peers. According to a study entitled “Why Healthy Sleep Is Good for Business” (Sleep Medicine Reviews), well-rested workers are more motivated and less likely to miss work. In short, high-quality rest leads to better talent management for the entire organization.
Finally, since well-restedness is associated with greater professional satisfaction, good rest policies can also yield emotional benefits and even improve customer relations. As the aforementioned study notes, moody, sleep-deprived employees are less creative, less innovative, and less effective in customer-facing roles.
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