A new study of permanent night shift workers suggests that cognitive impairments and performance declines on the night shift are more strongly correlated to insomnia than to sleepiness.
Link between insomnia and work performance on the night shift
The study by researchers at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, Michigan on the night shift found that of the workers who regularly experienced insomnia, workers who reported feeling alert on the night shift demonstrated greater degrees of impairment in work productivity and cognitive function than workers who reported excessive sleepiness on the night shift.
The study also found that alert insomniacs reported significantly greater fatigue than sleepy insomniacs, which emphasizes the difference between fatigue and sleepiness.
Fatigue vs Sleepiness
While fatigue and sleepiness may seem like synonymous terms, there are subtle, but distinct differences between the two terms.
As explained in the ‘The Definition of Human Fatigue’, fatigue is an impairment of mental and physical functioning manifested by a cluster of symptoms, one of which is sleepiness.
Fatigue is a term that embodies the feelings of weariness, tiredness, or lack of energy that result from a variety of causes including: sleep deprivation, sleep disorders, illness, therapeutic side effects, stress, mental or physical exertion, and/or rebounds from stimulant drug usage.
Sleepiness, on the other hand, is a symptom of fatigue characterized by an inability to stay awake and an increased propensity to fall asleep.
Significance of findings
The findings from this study are significant, as a recent meta-analysis of 27 observational studies found that sleep problems among shift workers increase the risk of workplace injuries by 62 percent.
A study completed last year by Swiss researchers found that there was a dose-response relationship between sleep problem severity and the odds of a workplace injury occurring.
Workers were 2x more likely to suffer a work injury if diagnosed with a sleep disorder, while workers with a diagnosed sleep disorder and suffering from poor sleep quality had a 3x greater risk of a work injury.
Seventy million Americans suffer from sleep problems, with nearly 60% suffering from a chronic sleep disorder. Given these findings, sleep issues and disorders threaten the safety of many operations across the United States.
Insomnia prevalence in U.S. workforce
One Harvard Medical School study found that 1 in 4 U.S. workers suffers from insomnia, costing U.S. employers $63 billion in lost productivity each year.
A study on the relationship between insomnia and productivity revealed that insomniacs were no more likely than their well-rested peers to miss work; however, their on-the-job sleepiness due to insomnia cost their employers the equivalent of 7.8 days of work in lost productivity each year – with the average cost totaling $2,280 per person.
Chronic vs acute insomnia
WebMD defines insomnia as a sleep disorder characterized by an inability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep. Insomnia can vary in how long it lasts and how often it occurs.
Insomnia can either occur sporadically over a period of days or weeks, known as acute insomnia, or it can be an ongoing problem that occurs at least three nights a week for a month or longer, known as chronic insomnia. Insomnia can also disappear and reappear, with periods of time in which a person has no sleep problems, while other times a person experiences persistent sleep problems.
Insomnia treatment options
Various treatment options exist for insomnia, including cognitive behavioral therapy, lifestyle changes, and various medications.
In recent years, cognitive behavioral therapy has been the recommended initial treatment option for insomnia due to its high efficacy rate and long-lasting benefits without adverse side effects.
In 2004, a group of renowned sleep researchers developed a cognitive behavioral therapy program for insomnia (CBT-I) that was more effective at treating insomnia than sleeping pills.
The program lead developer was Dr. Gregg Jacobs, a leading authority on the treatment of insomnia and who has spent the last 25 years researching and treating sleep problems at Harvard Medical School and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Dr. Jacobs’ CBT-I program was used to develop CIRCADIAN GoodSleep®, a 5-week, self-guided audio and/or workbook-based program for people to improve their sleep by implementing behavior modifications. GoodSleep® has been proven to help hundreds of thousands of people to improve their sleep.
GoodSleep® is now a critical part of CIRCADIAN’s Corporate Sleep Programs, which offer corporations customized and research-based solutions to address the issue of Sleep Wellness for all levels of a corporation or organization’s workforce. GoodSleep currently aims to improve sleep for night time sleepers; however, plans are in place to develop a GoodSleep program aimed to help shift workers with their sleep.
A Conversation with GoodSleep® Creator, Dr. Gregg Jacobs
A good day starts with GoodSleepTM
How an employee sleeps at night directly impacts how they function and perform at work, thereby impacting productivity, safety, health, health care costs, and more. While a company can outsource sleep education and training with CIRCADIAN’s Corporate Sleep Programs™, they cannot outsource an employee’s sleep.
CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing research, technology and consulting services to companies that operate around the clock. Recognizing that demands on the global workforce increasingly stretch the boundaries of employee work hours, there is a need to provide sleep solutions for ALL corporate employees, including those who sleep at night. CIRCADIAN’S Corporate Sleep Programs are designed to address their sleep and fatigue issues for those who work “normal” daytime hours.
Integral to CIRCADIAN’s Corporate Sleep Programs is GoodSleep, a cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) program developed by CIRCADIAN consultant and renowned sleep and insomnia expert, Dr. Gregg Jacobs.
About Dr. Gregg Jacobs
Dr. Jacobs is a leading authority on the treatment of insomnia and has spent the last 25 years researching and treating sleep problems at Harvard Medical School and the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Dr. Jacobs developed the first drug-free program for insomnia, which has proven to be, more effective than sleeping pills. He has taught his insomnia program to thousands of patients and to major corporations, such as Raytheon, Biogen, Reebok, and Fidelity. Dr. Jacobs used his revolutionary insomnia program to develop GoodSleep.
GoodSleep is a 5-week, self-guided audio and/or workbook-based program for people to improve their sleep by implementing behavior modifications. This CBT program has been proven to help hundreds of thousands of people to improve their sleep.
Nancy Rothstein, Director of CIRCADIAN’s Corporate Sleep Programs, had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Gregg Jacobs to ask him about trends in sleep habits and the role of GoodSleep in correcting sleep problems.
How did you become involved in the field of sleep?
Dr. Jacobs: I specialized in behavioral medicine and health psychology, two fields in medicine and psychology that were concerned with the impact of stress and lifestyle on health. Because sleep problems are so common, and non-drug methods could clearly be applied to the treatment of insomnia as an alternative to sleeping pills, I became very interested in behavioral sleep medicine and insomnia.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of adults report sleep problems a few nights a week or more. Why do so many people have sleep issues?
Dr. Jacobs: Because sleep is affected by, and affects, so many medical and psychological conditions. Sleep is also directly tied to stress and many of the alterations in our environment in modern life such as 24/7 lifestyle and technology and blue light exposure at night.
There is so much in the press these days about sleep, what to do and what not to do. How can a person define what constitutes healthy sleep for themselves?
Dr. Jacobs: Healthy sleep entails the amount of sleep that allows them to feel alert and energetic during the day, which is between seven to nine hours of sleep for the vast majority of adults.
How do you know if you need to see your physician or a sleep specialist to diagnose and treat a possible sleep disorder?
Dr. Jacobs: The Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) methods taught in GoodSleep have been proven more effective than sleeping pills in treating nocturnal insomnia, but if you have an underlying medical condition or sleep disorder such as sleep apnea, restless legs or narcolepsy, you should consult your doctor for your diagnosis and specific treatment of that condition, in order to reap the full benefits of GoodSleep.
What are the most common sleep issues that GoodSleep can address?
Dr. Jacobs: Anyone who has difficulty falling asleep or can’t stay asleep, whether this occurs occasionally or regularly, and is not getting enough sleep. The program is also very effective for helping those who are taking sleeping pills, to reduce or eliminate the pills.
How does GoodSleep work?
Dr. Jacobs: GoodSleep is a cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (or CBT-I for short) program that is based on almost three decades of sleep research and clinical practice at the Harvard and UMass Memorial Medical Centers. CBT-I is a technique that changes the sleep behaviors that are causing sleep problems. It is structured, sleep-focused, and easy to implement for most people. Learned thoughts and behaviors that are keeping you from getting a good night’s sleep can be unlearned or changed with CBT.
For people having a hard time sleeping, CBT helps them learn to:
- Change stressful, untrue thoughts about sleep;
- Change behaviors that keep them awake;
- Improve relaxation skills; and,
- Improve lifestyle habits that affect sleep.
How much time does GoodSleep take to use?
Dr. Jacobs: GoodSleep requires about three minutes per week to review the techniques in the program and put those techniques into effect.
What are the components of GoodSleep?
Dr. Jacobs: The components of GoodSleep include:
- Sleep scheduling techniques to change negative sleep patterns;
- Establishing healthy sleep habits and behaviors to make the bed a stronger cure for sleep;
- Guided bedtime relaxation exercises;
- Tips on simple lifestyle changes that improve sleep; and,
- Techniques to reduce and eliminate sleep medication.
Does GoodSleep’s CBT technique alone lead to success or are there other factors involved in sustainable sleep improvement?
Dr. Jacobs: Sustainable improvement is based on the individual being motivated to maintain the use of the learned techniques. Because these techniques become more ‘automatic’ over time, and long-term follow- up data indicates that people experience even greater improvement in sleep over time. People clearly maintain their use of the techniques without much difficulty.
Can you tell us about the success of your program?
Dr. Jacobs: There has been an 80% success in significantly improving sleep for people who have difficulty sleeping. This program has helped to reduce or eliminate use of sleeping pills for 90% of people who use them.
Why do you think a corporation should invest in the sleep education and training, including GoodSleep, for its workforce?
Dr. Jacobs: Sleep problems are amongst the most prevalent of all health problems. Workers with sleep problems will perform more poorly, and cost their employers more, than good sleepers. There is no other health problem that can have a more direct negative effect on daytime performance and productivity.
So how do you get started? We invite you to visit GoodSleep on our website for more information.
We also invite you to learn more about CIRCADIAN’s Corporate Sleep Programs® to consider how investing in sleep education and training for your workforce has an ROI and results in optimizing performance, minimizing health care costs and safety risks, and improving the health and well-being of your workforce...and your company.
Here’s a new year’s resolution that you will want to uphold – a better night of sleep!
Below are 15 simple sleep (re)solutions that will help you sleep your way to a successful new year!
1. Turn off your technology before bed
The bright light emitted from computer screens, smartphones, and eReaders inhibit the production of melatonin and delay circadian rhythms. Recent research has revealed that nighttime eReader usage can reduce nighttime sleepiness, fragment sleep, and reduce alertness the following morning.
Avoid contact with light-emitting screens and other bright lights at least a couple of hours before you plan to go to bed.
2. Get a new alarm clock
A smartphone makes for a convenient alarm clock; however, sticking to the old-fashion alarm clock is a better choice. Phone notifications and messages throughout the night can result in sleep fragmentation and microarousals.
Not willing to buy an alarm clock? At the very least, put your phone on airplane mode and on the opposite side of the room from your bed.
3. Ditch the late afternoon latte
The effects of caffeine can last anywhere from 2.5 to 10 hours, which means that a mid-afternoon cup of coffee could result in tossing and turning when bedtime rolls around.
4. Set a Netflix limit
You’re only going to watch the first episode of the latest season of House of Cards? Unlikely.
Save yourself from a late-night Netflix binge by determining in advance how many episode you will watch before you go to start watching your shows. And for the love of sleep – don’t start the next season before bed!
5. Put a cap on the night caps
While that night cap may help you fall asleep faster, it will end up doing more harm than good to the quality of your sleep.
Alcohol initially acts as a sedative to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep; however, it causes sleep to be fragmented, especially during the 2nd half of the night.
6. Develop a bedtime routine
Practicing a bedtime routine is ideal for preparing your mind and body for sleep. Listening to soothing music, taking a bath or shower, and light stretching are all great examples of bedtime routines that will help make falling asleep much easier.
7. No pets in the bed
It may be hard to kick your beloved pet out of the bedroom, but it’s for the best – we promise! Research this year found that of the individuals who shared the bed with their pets at least four nights a week, 63% reported poor sleep quality.
How is your furry friend impacting your sleep? Between their animated dreams, barks, meows, and spontaneous arousals, pets can seriously disrupt your sleep.
Some animals also operate on different biological clocks than humans. For instance, cats have poor biological rhythms of sleep and alertness, which can result in your playful cat waking you up at 4 AM.
8. Stick to your bedtime
While it may seem juvenile, a regular bed time can be incredibly helpful for the synchronization of your internal clock, which can help you to fall asleep easier. Setting a bed time will also help you to get the proper amount of sleep each night.
9. Don't be a clock watcher
When experiencing insomnia, clock-watching will often worsen the insomnia and make falling back to sleep much more challenging.
In order to avoid clock-watching behavior, refrain from sleeping with your phone at your bedside, and also cover alarm and TV clocks with black electric tape.
10. Stop falling for the snooze button
The extra sleep with the snooze button may actually be leaving your MORE tired than just getting up the first time!
When you hit the snooze button, your body may restart its sleep cycle, entering into deeper stages of sleep and causing you to feel groggy and tired upon waking up. It’s best to just wake up upon the first alarm, as your body prepares itself to wake up even before your alarm clock goes off.
Can’t seem to break your snooze button habit? Try putting your alarm clock on the opposite side of the room from your bed. This will force you to get out of bed to turn off the alarm, and decrease the likelihood of you hitting the snooze button.
11. Cut out noise
Try to keep your sleep environment as quiet as possible in order to avoid micro arousals. Some great ways to reduce external noise include using earplugs or a white noise machine.
If you are less inclined to purchase a white noise machine, there are plenty of CDs and MP3s of white noise sounds that can be used with a sound system.
12. Have a sleep disorders screening
Do you habitually snore? Have trouble falling asleep? Excessively tired during the day? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have an underlying sleep disorder.
It’s estimated that between 50-70 million Americans have a sleep and/or alertness disorder.1 Without proper treatment, these disorders can seriously impact your health and daily functioning. In fact, untreated obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to an increased risk of stroke, congestive heart failure, hypertension, and depression.
13. Start napping correctly
Need a mid-day boost? A power nap is the perfect solution – if done properly.
To maximize the effectiveness of your power nap, keep it shorter than 30 minutes to avoid sleep inertia, which can leave you feeling groggy for the rest of the day. Can’t fall asleep in that short of a time frame? Don’t worry about it! You don’t necessarily have to fall asleep to feel the benefits of a nap.
It’s also important not to nap too late in the day, as this can cause sleep troubles come bed time.
Napping trick: Drink a caffeinated beverage immediately before taking a nap so that you will feel supercharged after waking up from your nap.
14. Wake up at the same time every day
The strength of our circadian rhythms is dependent upon the consistency of our bed and wake times.
Getting up at the same time, every day (weekends too) strengthens our circadian rhythm, making it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.
If you want to catch up on some zzzs, try taking a mid-afternoon nap or even going to bed earlier.
15. Get more sleep!
Chronic sleep deprivation is a serious issue. Studies have found that individuals who routinely sleep less than 7 hours per night have an increased risk for obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
If you’re getting less than 7 - 8 hours of sleep a night, your #1 New Year’s Resolution should be to get more sleep! With a good night of sleep, 2016 may be YOUR year to shine!
CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock. Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations with traditional and/or extended operating hours optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of sleep deprivation and fatigue.
1. Institute of Medicine. Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2006.
Do you struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep at night? Are you often frustrated and discouraged by unpredictable sleep troubles? We are here to help put your mind at ease and your body to rest!
Below are ten easy ways to help improve your sleep so that you perform at your best everyday. Sleep well, live well... that's our message.
1. Avoid caffeinated beverages by mid-afternoon
The effects of caffeine can last anywhere from 2.5 to 10 hours, which means that a mid-afternoon cup of coffee could result in tossing and turning when bedtime rolls around.
2. Cut out the noise
Try to keep your sleep environment as quiet as possible in order to avoid micro arousals. Some great ways to reduce external noise include using earplugs or a white noise machine. If you are less inclined to purchase a white noise machine, there are plenty of free white noise apps that can be downloaded for your smartphone.
3. Set a bed time
While it may seem juvenile, a regular bed time can be incredibly helpful for the synchronization of your internal clock, which can help you fall asleep easier. Setting a bed time also will help you attain the proper amount of sleep each night .
4. Avoid alcohol before bed
While that night cap may help you fall asleep faster, it will end up doing more harm than good to your sleep quality. Alcohol initially acts as a sedative to decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep; however, it causes sleep to be fragmented, especially during the 2nd half of the night.
5. Associate your bed with sleep
Avoid using your phone, watching TV, surfing the web and work-related activities in bed. Eliminating non-sleep related activities from the bedroom will strengthen your association between your bed and sleep.
6. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible
Do you find yourself consistently waking up with the sun? A quick fix to this issue is to use an eye mask or to install room-darkening curtains to block out early morning light.
7. Get up!
Place your alarm on the opposite side of the room from your bed. This will help you avoid oversleeping by requiring you to get out of bed to turn it off, and will also help to make waking up a bit easier. If you are still feeling groggy when you wake up, try splashing your face with cold water or seeking out bright sunlight.ÂÂ
8. Get into a bedtime routineÂÂ
Practicing a bedtime routine is ideal for preparing your mind and body for sleep. Listening to soothing music, taking a bath or shower, and light stretching are all great examples of bedtime routines that will help make falling asleep much easier. ÂÂ
9. Stop watching the clock
When experiencing insomnia, clock-watching will often worsen the insomnia and make falling back to sleep much more challenging. In order to avoid clock-watching behavior, refrain from sleeping with your phone at your bedside, and also cover alarm and TV clocks with black electric tape.
10. Keep a journal
Do you struggle with a "racing mind" when you are trying to fall asleep? One quick fix is to keep a journal beside your bed to write down thoughts that pop into your mind when you are attempting to fall asleep. That way you will spend less time worrying about tomorrow and more time sleeping soundly. If you find that a journal is unhelpful, white noise is can also be helpful with falling asleep.ÂÂ
CIRCADIAN® is the global leader in providing 24/7 workforce performance and safety solutions for businesses that operate around the clock.ÂÂ Through a unique combination of consulting expertise, research and technology, software tools and informative publications, CIRCADIAN helps organizations with traditional and/or extended operating hours optimize employee performance and reduce the inherent risks and costs of sleep deprivation and fatigue.