Despite an ever-increasing focus on wellness in the workplace, employers often overlook a key contributor to the health and well-being of their employees — sleep. New research shows sleep-deprivation runs rampant in today’s workplaces, but gives hope that employers who choose to offer sleep solutions can have a positive impact on the problem, while building their company’s culture of health.

Benefit advisers looking to improve or create a client’s wellness program understand that a strong culture of health plays a big part in garnering employee participation and ultimately, success.

See also: Selling wellness that works

Nearly 30% of employees surveyed by Virgin Pulse’s research arm, Virgin Pulse Institute, say they are unhappy or very unhappy with the quality or quantity of their sleep. Nearly 76% of the employees feel tired many days of the week and 15% say they doze off during the day at least once per week.

Poor sleep quality can have dramatic effects on an employee’s health and also work productivity, but Virgin Pulse Institute Director Jennifer Turgiss says “even small improvements can create change.”

Employers can provide “some simple information and techniques to help improve sleep,” she adds. What’s more, the Framingham, Mass.-based research institute found employees are likely to feel positively toward their employer for providing programs that help them improve their sleep.

The employees surveyed “said they appreciated it and felt their company cared about their health and well-being both on and off the job,” Turgiss tells EBA.

As part of a larger wellness program, benefit advisers can encourage employers to offer sleep information and better sleeping tips or sleep solutions, such as online programs focused on improving sleep habits or sleep-tracking devices.

Employers can even begin to think about ways to incentivize sleep tracking, Turgiss says.

Employers can also develop sound policies to foster improved sleep, she says, such as facilitating flexible scheduling to allow for rest following major or international travel.

In the Virgin Institute study, employees took the following actions to improve their sleeping habits including: modifying their sleeping environment, switching their exercise routines, changing their eating and drinking habits and working on their thought activity when they found themselves awake in the middle of the night.

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