Improving sleep outcomes!

What can be done to solve the problem of insufficient sleep?

To improve sleep outcomes among the wider population, we share outlines with several recommendations for individuals, employers, and public authorities.

We have taken this excerpt from the section of key research findings from the book – “Why Sleep Matters-The Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep: A Cross-Country Comparative Analysis” by Marco Hafner, Martin Štěpánek, Jirka Taylor, Wendy M. Troxel, Christian van Stolk that is published in the Rand health quarterly 2017, made accessible via semanticscholar.org

Recommendations targeted at individuals

1. Set a consistent wake-up time. Individuals may achieve better sleep outcomes by making sure they wake up at a consistent time.

2. Limit the use of electronic devices before bedtime. Individuals may achieve better sleep outcomes minimising the time spent using electronic devices and the overall amount of screen time, particularly shortly before bedtime. The use of screens in the evening may suppress people’s melatonin levels, a hormone which is crucial for the control of sleeping and waking cycles.

3. Limit the consumption of substances which may impair sleep quality. Sleep outcomes can be improved by avoiding or minimise the consumption of substances close to bedtime, including caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.

4. Exercise. Physical activity has been demonstrated to be associated with improved sleep outcomes.

Recommendations targeting employers

1. Recognise the importance of sleep and the employer’s role in its promotion. Employers should recognise the importance of sleep and the adverse outcomes both for individuals and businesses stemming from insufficient sleep. In some instances, this may require a cultural change in organisational thinking.

2. Provide facilities and amenities that help employees with sleep hygiene. Employers can put in place arrangements to support their staff’s daily routines with the aim of improving their sleep outcomes.

3. Discourage the extended use of electronic devices. Employers may signal limits on staff’s expected availability after working hours or by introducing policies limiting after-hours and out of-office communications.

Recommendations targeting public authorities

1. Support health professionals in providing sleep-related help. Awareness campaigns and wider support activities should be aimed at professionals so that they are best equipped to assist individuals suffering from sleep disorders.

2. Introduce later school starting times. Public authorities can help promote more effective schedules by introducing delayed school starts.

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