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Steps Employers Can Take to Counteract the Sleep Deficit

In the Well-being section we showed how lack of sleep is a major issue in modern society and is linked not to just undermining individuals' well-being but also leading to poor performance at work. Since sleep deprivation is often caused by work, employers could take steps to ensure that their employees get enough sleep. How might they do this?

Charles Leadbeater, author of the Demos think-tank report Dream On: Sleep in the 24/7 Society, argues that many employers already offer gyms, creches, restaurants, sick rooms, so why shouldn't they provide space for a workplace nap where staff can catch up on lost sleep? Napping makes us sharp, smart, alert and energetic, benefits recognised by the 47% of US companies which either encourage napping or turn a blind eye to it. 

Employers could also encourage increased homeworking, thus reducing commuting time, allowing staff to get to bed earlier and to monitor their children's bedtime routine. It should not be compulsory for staff to attend breakfast meetings more than five or six times a year, especially if they have children. 

Since people like pilots, bus drivers and lorry drivers already have limits on their working hours, these should be extended to other staff who have to drive for much of the day - such as delivery drivers, sales reps etc. Employers who expect certain to staff to work and long hours and drive long distances should bear some of the costs for accidents caused by fatigued staff.

Parents of young children, especially those with under-fives, should be allowed to insist on family friendly and sleep-friendly hours at work.

Lastly, Leadbeater argues that politicians should set a better example: 

"The norm, at least since Mrs Thatcher, is for government ministers to work most evenings, returning to their homes after dinner to deal with their papers till the early hours. Once can only wonder at the role that sleep deprivation plays in the some of the decisions that politicians take."

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