Investing in the Economics of Sleep
by Troy Schrenk
Fatigue management is a growing concern in many industries today. Every day, we see more news stories and research about the importance of sleep to every facet of our health and well-being. Everyone understands the risks of a sleep deprived, fatigued workforce—but how can companies that operate remote work sites really be sure workers are getting quality sleep? Lodging with an optimal sleeping environment takes on a new level of urgency for workers in these demanding fields.
Why Sleep Matters
Today’s always-on culture sometimes confuses sleeplessness with high productivity—but the opposite is true. Sleep deprivation and fatigue impact cognitive performance, reaction speed, spatial orientation and short-term and long-term memory.
Think about these problems in the context of the demanding work required at remote construction or energy sites. In our white paper, Nancy H. Rothstein, The Sleep Ambassador®, explores the many risks. Drowsy driving or machine operation can be as dangerous as operating under the influence of alcohol. Fatigue leads to increased accidents. And then there’s “presenteeism,” the evil twin of absenteeism, with chronically sleep-deprived workers coming to work but performing at a low level. It’s not much of a stretch to see how sleep deprivation can lead to serious project risk.
How Sleep Can Be Optimized
The importance of quality sleep is beyond question—it’s the cornerstone of any company’s fatigue management plan. How can companies translate this into action for the betterment of their workforce? The good news is that the sleep environment can be optimized, even in remote locations, through superior accommodations that take the following into account:
- Darkness: Even dim light affects sleep quality. Blackout curtains reduce the risk of sleep disturbance from natural and artificial light from outside. This is especially important for those workers recovering from night shifts.
- Temperature: The body needs to be cool for sleep; individual climate controls make this possible.
- Quiet: Walls with adequate insulation, along with earplugs, help workers shut out the noise of others coming and going.
- Bedding: Quality mattresses and bedding aren’t luxuries—they’re necessities for a good night’s sleep. Target Lodging addresses this through our Hibernator Sleep System™ at our lodges: a pillow-top mattress, high-thread-count sheets and overstuffed pillows
Besides these basics, well-designed housing can offer other factors that optimize sleep. Target Lodging offers well-equipped, on-site fitness centers at our lodges. We know they encourage exercise, which in turn promotes better sleep—see our infographic.
It’s also hard to overstate the importance of location to sleep. Lengthy commutes cut into valuable sleep and recreation time, increasing fatigue. Workforce housing near worksites reduces the need for these long drives.
The Economics of Comfort™ and the ROI of Sleep
At Target Lodging, our driving philosophy is “the Economics of Comfort,” which means that quality housing is a worthwhile investment in a productive, prepared workforce. Investing in the “the Economics of Sleep” results in a high ROI by mitigating the risks of a poorly rested workforce.
- Lost productivity
- Higher health care costs
- Higher turnover rates
- Decreased safety
Fatigue management plans for projects and workers in remote, challenging sites simply can’t ignore the role of housing. Employers, employees and housing providers all have a role to play when it comes to combatting fatigue and sleep deprivation. Optimizing sleep results in a safer, healthier workforce—and that’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.