by Comprehensive Staff

09/20/2016 10:52 pm

How Does Insomnia Impact Work Performance?

pug wrapped in blanket

What’s on your list of things that cause you to have poor sleep?  A newborn child in the home?  Worrying about work?  Family stress?  Medical or dental issues that either prevent you from falling asleep, or wake you up prematurely?  Regardless of its cause, a simple thing such as the lack of sleep can have significant impacts on our behavior, thinking, and moods. 

How much is enough?  Most studies will tell you that the number of hours of sleep that an average, healthy adult needs varies considerably, but generally falls within the range of 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to maintain good health and cognitive functioning.  Teenagers and children need considerably more.

Poor sleep reduces your reaction times and negatively impacts your ability to work, learn, create, and communicate, all of which can have a direct impact on your work performance.  Lack of concentration, lack of focus, and forgetfulness are some of the obvious symptoms of poor sleep, and can easily lead to increased workplace accidents.  More subtle symptoms of insomnia can include increased risk of cardiovascular disease, poor balance, and a reduction in your ability to fight infections.  Relationships can be impacted by sudden mood swings, temper flare-ups, and irritability.

And like most things in life, it is not the quantity of sleep you get, it’s the quality.  Experiencing several hours of poor sleep is just as impactful as getting only a few hours of restful sleep.  Luckily there are a range of fairly simple interventions that can help improve your sleep.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) can guide individuals through a series of changes to improve sleep behaviors. 

CBT-I interventions include stimulus control therapy (to identify and remove barriers to good sleep including behaviors and thoughts), sleep restriction (decreasing non-productive sleep time in your bed), sleep hygiene education (making basic lifestyle changes that can impact sleep), sleep environment improvement (making changes to your sleeping environment), and relaxation training (such as meditation, guided imagery, and muscle relaxation). 

After only a few sessions of CBT-I, most people experience a significant improvement in sleep quantity and quality.  This makes CBT-I an ideal intervention for brief therapy services, such as Employee Assistance Programs.  So if you are struggling with poor sleep, contact your EAP provider and request an initial appointment to discuss how CBT-I may be useful to you in improving your health, safety, productivity and interpersonal relationships.

Employees covered by Northwest EAP benefits can call (509) 575-4313 or (800) 321-3498 to set up an EAP appointment.  Employers who want to learn more about Comprehensive Healthcare’s Employee Assistance Programs, please contact our EAP Coordinator at (509) 575-3786 or eap@comphc.org.