Several studies have found that high stress and heavy workloads alone are not the main risk factor when it comes to burnouts… sleep is the determining factor.
Employee burnout is an ever-growing problem, particularly as individuals and companies may miss the stressors or precursors of burnout.
How lack of sleep affects the employee and causes burnout
If you are running a business or a company, you know well that many physical and psychological problems have a direct impact on efficiency in the workplace. Sick days and absenteeism not only lead to financial losses, but also adversely affect teamwork and productivity.
When a person is well-rested with 7-8 hours of solid sleep, many of these problems can be mitigated or reduced. The employee’s health and productivity also improve and this benefits the company directly and indirectly.
The ability of a person to handle stress depends on his or her personality, age, health and many other factors. What is irrefutable is that stress and insomnia are linked. Lack of sleep also contributes to chronic fatigue, feelings of exhaustion, anxiety and reduced performance in the workplace. A worker who is constantly tired is an unhappy and less productive worker. Insufficient or disturbed sleep increases the risk of burnout.
Is there any scientific evidence to back this hypothesis?
Scientific studies have shown the direct impact of sleep problems on worker burnout. One study concluded that ‘impaired sleep may play a role in the development of fatigue or exhaustion in burnout.’
Another study carried out in France showed that lack of sleep or disordered sleep have a direct impact on worker burnout. Basically the study held that a high work-load or on-the-job stresses singly are not a factor in worker burnout. It is only when combined with bad sleep that the risk of burnout increases.
Bolstering this, another study showed that sleep recovery is an important factor in reduced worker absenteeism and the return of sick employees to work. In fact the authors conclude that ‘behavioral sleep medicine (should) be actively incorporated into the treatment of burnout’.
Yet another study in Sweden showed how workers are now almost always stressed thanks to lower separation between work and leisure. This study referenced how sleep disturbances combined with work stresses lead to burnout. The study concluded by saying that ‘Interventions to enhance sleep and recovery in occupational settings could help prevent burnout.
How sleep training can help improve worker efficiency and health
What can you do about sleep-related burnout or absenteeism problems you may well wonder? After all, an employee sleeps at home. Do keep in mind that when your employees miss work, it directly impacts the company’s bottom-line. Just as you invest in various benefits for your workers you can also invest in sleep training for the employees who need it.
The scientific evidence is clear in proving a link between burnout and sleep. It may be hard to differentiate between stress that causes insomnia or insomnia that is aggravated by work stresses. But sleep training can help with insomnia and sleep disorders, having a positive impact on worker health and reduced incidences of burnout.
Find out more about our sleep programme for companies in Belgium.
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