The Power of Sleep, Pt. 3

Welcome to the third and final blog in our series, 'The Power of Sleep'. In part 1 and part 2, we explored ways in which sleep deprivation affects our health and what we can do about it. Now let's take a look at some effective ways we can address these issues within our workplaces as well.

Low or No-Cost Employer Strategies to Remedy the Problem

More hours at work does not translate into more work done. The importance of establishing a healthy work/life balance is slowly being embraced by corporations and governments. For instance, Germany has banned after-hours emails to government workers. France has banned work emails and telephone calls outside business hours. And in Brazil, employees who are required to respond to after-hours work emails or calls can charge their employers overtime. These measures are in recognition that employees will be more productive and efficient when they have boundaries with work and that they may burn out if they do not have the opportunity to fully disconnect from work. While such initiatives may be unrealistic in the practice of law, there are still steps one can take to address the problem.

  1. Education: Educate staff on the importance of sleep. Begin by sharing with your employees what you have learned from these blog posts. Consider offering seminars, circulating information bulletins or inviting speakers to inform employees on the negative effects of sleep loss, how to recognize sleep debt, and offer tips on how to improve sleep hygiene, all of which can be found on the Canadian Sleep Society and American Sleep Association websites.
  2. Ergonomics: Learning proper ergonomic principles and how to reduce pain, particularly back pain from spending long hours sitting at a computer, can help prevent chronic pain from interfering with sleep.
  3. Wellness programs: Include a focus on the importance of sleep in your wellness program. Offer tips on how to improve sleep and why it is important, not just to the bottom line, but for employee health and well-being.
  4. Normalize naps: Call it a break or a mini-vacation, but more and more businesses, including Google, Ben & Jerry’s, Time Warner, and Nike, are promoting on-the-job napping to improve productivity. The ideal nap length is no longer than 20 minutes, and ought to occur between approximately 1:00 – 3:00 pm. Some notable nappers include Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Leonardo DaVinci, Napolean Bonaparte, Thomas Edison, and Winston Churchill.
  5. Predictable schedules: Working long hours can disturb sleep. Restructuring workloads and schedules can sometimes have a positive impact. The top three ways to do this include, taking longer or more frequent breaks, flex-time, and telecommuting.

Many lawyers work long and hard, deal with complex issues, and face unknown challenges. You want your brain to be on your side, so you can bring your best thinking and energy to any activity, problem, or relationship. If 30 minutes of extra sleep each night leads to better focus and decision-making ability, you will surely regain that 30 minutes back in productivity.

Sleep on it.

Bena Stock
Bena Stock was called to the Bar in 1992 and practised primarily in the areas of professional negligence and insurance defence for 24 years.