Employee Wellness


Improving Employees’ Sleep Quality as a Preventive Approach to Mental Health

Poor sleep can negatively affect employees’ mental health. Here’s how you can help improve your workforce’s sleep quality and boost productivity.

a woman laying in bed under a white sheet

The Calm Team

3 min read

A good night’s sleep. We all crave it. We all need it.

Yet, around the world, 62% of the adult population sleeps poorly. Also, more than $680 billion has been lost across five OECD countries due to insufficient sleep. It’s crucial for employers to care for their employees’ sleep quality—not just for the individual but also for the organization’s benefit.

In our Healthy Minds at Work: Preventive Guide for Reducing Health Risks and Costs for Employers, we share a Healthy Minds Workplace Model with five pillars of prevention. In this blog post, we discuss our second pillar of prevention, improving sleep. Here’s why addressing your employees’ sleep quality is key to a preventative approach to their overall mental well-being. 

Poor sleep is linked to physical and mental impacts 

There are notable differences between sleeping and actually getting quality sleep every night. The latter increases brain plasticity—the brain’s ability to be more adaptable—and a lack of quality sleep can impede our ability to stay sharp and think quickly. 

Research has shown that poor sleep can negatively affect people physically and mentally. It can increase their risk for type 2 diabetes, blood pressure, and other physical diseases. Sleep disturbance is also a strong predictor of depression and anxiety. 

Poor sleep can be due to circumstances in an employee’s professional and personal lives. But having support from their employer can help an employee understand it’s something they’re able to improve. Also, when employers provide benefits like Calm to help employees sleep better, that’s a step in the direction of adopting a preventive, healthy-mind approach to holistic care. 

4 ways employers can improve employees’ sleep quality 

It’s one thing to share resources with employees to help them better manage their sleep quality; it’s quite another to proactively set up a workplace that promotes and values a good sleep culture. 

We have curated four actionable tips that as HR and benefits leaders you can adopt within your organization to help your employees rest well:

1. Actively support work-life balance

It’s common for most of us in the modern workforce to be so constantly busy during our workday that we don’t feel we can take time off to take care of ourselves. As employers, you can proactively encourage employees to take paid time off if they haven’t done so for a while. Your senior leadership can be role models by sharing when they’re taking time off. Your managers can wrap up Zoom meetings with their team with a Daily Move session so everyone can get a gentle exercise break during the workday. 

2. Provide flexible work schedules

If your organization is able to, consider providing more flexible work schedules that are conducive to different work styles and personal situations so employees can find the balance they need in their daily lives. Alternatively, you can plan better with your leadership team to ensure that the right people are on the right projects so you aren’t overextending your employees’ energy and capacities. Once your employees have more time for themselves, they can try out our Better Sleep collection with Dr. Michael Breus and The Power of Rest collection with Dr. Alex Pang to establish a good sleep routine. 

3. Thoughtfully manage after-work communications

Working from home is the new norm and that often blurs the line between work and personal time. Based on your organization’s official work hours, you can encourage managers and employees to disable work notifications and messages after business hours. If you have internal communication tools, you can schedule messages to be sent to employees when they’re back online in their time zone and also let them know whether a message needs to be immediately acted on. For managers and employees who still find it difficult to turn off after work, you can share with them our Embracing Stillness collection with Pico Iyer and Social Media & Screen Addiction collection by Dr. Adam Alter. 

4. Encourage employees to attend wellness workshops

Lastly, you can organize wellness workshops with sleep experts who can give your employees tailored advice to help them regularly get better sleep. Here at Calm Business, we have Calm Workshops that are customized to your organization’s unique needs. From minimizing stress and burnout to creating better work–life balance, we’re here to help your employees on their mental health journey.

For more information on how you can implement the other four pillars of prevention, check out our Healthy Minds at Work: Preventive Guide for Reducing Health Risks and Costs for Employers.

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