Do we really need to get paid to get enough sleep?

mansleeping with moneyWait? The insurance giant Aetna is now offering employees CASH incentives to get their required sleep? True! I read that their employees can qualify for $25/night if they can show that they have slept seven hours or more for 20 nights. For many of us, that’s no easy task but clearly – it should be a priority!

Aetna employees can earn $300 over the year for doing what we all should be – making sleep a PRIORITY!  Aetna’s CEO, Mark Bertolini was quoted saying that “Creating a culture that encourages workers to get more sleep can be a boon to your business.”

Well hello Aetna – you’re on the right track. We’ve all seen the endless articles and research that shows us that a healthy and well-rested employee will perform better. Good employees doing good work = a better bottom line. Oh, and they are happier too, not a bad bonus.

Most companies haven’t yet opted for the “pay for sleep” route, but why not? Really, there are plenty of reasons to convince you of the REAL DANGERS of not getting enough sleep.

Sleep deprivation can lead to:

Weight Gain – Lack of sleep leads to a hormonal problem that can mess with your hunger mechanism. Sleep deprivation leads to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol and also ghrelin, both of which increase your appetite.  Your body also produces less leptin, the hormone that tells you to stop eating. Read more on this topic.

Heart Disease – Although the reasons aren’t entirely clear, studies have pointed to a connection between sustained lack of sleep and heart disease.  Learn more about how sleep can affect your heart.

Weakened immune system Poor sleep is associated with a compromised immune system  and decreased numbers of the cells that fight off illness. Some small studies have even linked certain types of cancer with lack of sleep.

Anxiety, Depression and Heightened Emotional Response If you are suffering from any of the above, you may want to take a look at your sleep habits. According to a study  by Matthew T. Feldner, a professor of psychology at the J. William Fulbright College of Arts, individuals who lost just one night of sleep responded with more emotion to a laboratory ‘stressor.’  According to Feldner, this supports previous work that has linked chronic sleep loss to anxiety and mood disorders.

Increased risk of accidents/impaired judgement
Sleep deprived individuals are at greater risk of being involved in accidents at the workplace and behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving results in 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and more than 100,000 accidents each year.  Did you know that many of the world’s major disasters including the Chernobyl meltdown, the Challenger explosion, and the Exxon Valdez oil spill were all in some way contributed to by lack of sleep!!

To get the whole story on the serious consequences of sleep deprivation, check out this video. It’s eye-opening.

On a personal note, I’d like to let it be known that during our recent ISPA EXPO 2016 trade show in Orlando, FL this past March I did make it a point to get my required sleep! Years of getting up at the crack of dawn to be at my assigned post early in the morning, made me realize the folly of late night dinners or entertainment.   Maybe there will be a little something extra in my next paycheck??

Here’s hoping you make sleep your priority!


International Sleep Products Association

International Sleep Products Association

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