Adequate sleep is often overlooked in the workplace. In Singapore, almost a third of employees reported that they are sleep deprived and have to sacrifice sleep to fulfil work commitments .
Yet, it turns out that getting a good night’s sleep is essential for maintaining employee productivity and mental wellbeing. According to the Psychiatric Times, sleep is one of the pillars of mental health .
The recommended amount of sleep varies depending on age, with adults typically needing 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
What is Good Sleep Hygiene?
To get sufficient sleep, it is important to establish and maintain good sleep hygiene. Good sleep hygiene refers to the practices and habits that promote healthy and restful sleep every night.
This includes sticking to a consistent sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleep environment, limiting exposure to screens and caffeine before bedtime, and relaxing before bed.
Mental Health Benefits of Sleep
Promoting good sleep habits among employees can have a positive impact on their overall mental health and wellbeing, as well as their performance in the workplace. Here are a few science-backed benefits:
1. Improve Mood One of the most significant benefits of sleep on mental health is its ability to improve mood. Sleep helps to regulate the production of hormones such as serotonin and melatonin, which play a crucial role in regulating mood and emotions. Adequate sleep can help to boost mood, reduce feelings of sadness, and improve overall emotional wellbeing. In contrast, studies reported that a lack of sleep can lead to irritability, mood swings, and an increased risk of developing mood disorders such as depression .
2. Ability to Improve Memory Sleep plays a vital role in the consolidation of new information and the formation of new memories. Adequate sleep helps to improve attention, concentration, and decision-making. A study reveals that as little as eight minutes of sleep during the day was enough to significantly improve memory . On the other hand, inadequate sleep can lead to poor memory, difficulty focusing, and reduced cognitive function, affecting an individual's productivity and overall job performance.
A study by RAND Europe and Cambridge University found that sleep deprivation is linked to lower productivity at work, and can lead to a significant amount of working days being lost each year .
3. Reduce Stress Levels Adequate sleep helps us regulate stress levels and promote relaxation, whereas a deprivation of sleep makes one more emotionally aroused and sensitive to stressors. Research has shown that during REM sleep, the limbic networks of our brain help us regulate emotions and process any traumatic events . A lack of sleep can thus make it more challenging for employees to regulate stress levels which can have a negative impact on their performance and mental health, leading to increased absenteeism, decreased productivity, and increased risk of burnout.
How Can Employers Support Employees to Sleep Better?
Employers have a role in promoting healthy sleep habits within the workplace, by providing resources, flexible schedules, and creating a culture that values rest. Finding effective methods to support your employee’s mental wellness and productivity is important.
Here’s what we recommend:
1. Educate Employees
Promote positive sleep habits by educating employees on the importance of sleep and strategies for improving sleep quality. Such strategies include avoiding caffeine, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, taking regular breaks throughout the day and creating a comfortable and relaxing sleep environment.
2. Encourage Regular Exercise
Encourage employees to exercise regularly as this promotes healthy sleep and helps to reduce the potential risks associated with sedentary lifestyles. Employers can also offer incentives for employees who participate in fitness programs or offer on-site workout facilities.
3. Create a Positive Sleep Culture
Employers can create a positive sleep culture and bring the discussion of sleep out into the open. A good place to start is to regularly share useful articles and information with employees which can prompt them to make small adjustments to their behaviours and help to improve their wellbeing over time. As an example, read and share ‘working out for and sleeping for a better workout’.
4. Provide Wellbeing Resources
Employers can also consider providing resources such as counselling services, stress management programs, and employee assistance programs to help employees manage stress and improve sleep quality. Taking a proactive approach to ensure adequate and relevant resources in place allows employees to seek help early if they are suffering from sleep problems.
By taking these steps, employers can help create a work environment that supports healthy sleep and promotes overall wellbeing for their employees. Remember that a well-rested employee is a more productive and engaged employee.
Not Sure Where to Start?
Actxa Wellness’s “Journey with Wellness" is a holistic wellness programme that provides customised solutions to elevate employee’s health and overall wellbeing. The programme is designed to track personalised bio-data and incorporate a tried-and-tested curriculum revolving around nutrition, rest and physical activity. To learn more about how you can improve your employee wellbeing at work or to review your current employees benefits to ensure that they meet your employee’s health needs, please get in touch with us here.
About the Writer Jeannette Qhek is the Wellbeing Lead at Actxa Wellness, where she curates the wellness curriculum with relevant science-backed content. Extremely passionate about the psychology behind human behaviour, she is now pursuing her Master's in Counselling with Monash University. Her other passion is content creation, and she is part of Tiktok's team of Youth for Good Wellness Education. As part of this exciting journey, she created "Chill By Nette", an online wellness space to share her resources and learnings. Through sharing her voice and creativity, she hopes to make psychological concepts and wellness research knowledge more accessible and fun to the public.
 Vandekerckhove, M., & Wang, Y. L. (2017). Emotion, emotion regulation and sleep: An intimate relationship. AIMS neuroscience, 5(1), 1–17. https://doi.org/10.3934/Neuroscience.2018.1.1
 Lahl, O., Wispel, C., Willigens, B., & Pietrowsky, R. (2008). An ultra short episode of sleep is sufficient to promote declarative memory performance. Journal of sleep research, 17(1), 3–10. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2869.2008.00622.x