The company that pays its staff to sleep
Numerous studies have shown a correlation between sleep deprivation and poor employee performance in the office, with businesses facing the consequences that a lack of sleep has on productivity and decision-making.
One company, Aetna, has taken an innovative step in trying to tackle the problem of too little sleep - by paying its employees to stay in bed longer. Under the scheme, which was introduced in 2014, Aetna rewards employees for getting at least seven hours sleep per night, with a financial award of up to £225 each year. Staff are trusted to manually record how long they have slept every night.
A 2011 US study showed that the average worker loses 11.3 working days or £1,700 of productivity per year due to sleep deprivation, a figure thought to be comparable for the UK. A 2015 study by the Rand Corporation found that staff who slept less than eight hours per night experienced significantly more productivity loss compared to employees who slept more than eight hours per night on average.
There is also research to suggest that not getting enough sleep can make you ill, with increased sick days having a clear knock on impact on productivity.
Aetna is the not the only business taking the issue of sleep deprivation seriously. In fact, a whole industry is growing up around encouraging a better work-life balance and making time for sleep. Some companies are even hiring the services of professional sleep advisers.
There are, however, a small number of people who appear able to perform well with only a limited amount of sleep. One often-cited example is former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was said to get on average four hours sleep per night. The reason for this may be genetic - there is a gene, active in one in every 1,000 people, which enables an individual to function on reduced sleep.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.