February 2010

Wellness Tip:

Do you like oatmeal, almonds, turkey and bananas? These foods all  contain melatonin and magnesium, which are proven sleep enhancing nutrients that cansooth your mind and relax your muscles. Be sure to add them to your grocery  list. Sweet dreams!

Morrow, Crossdale & Associates Inc.
445 Apple Creek Blvd.
Suite 219
Markham, Ontario
E.G (Ted) Morrow:
Paul Crossdale:
Sean Ross:

“The Walking Dead”
How sleep deprivation can affect your company’s benefit plan costs

Researchers estimate that sleep deprived workers cost us billions of dollars each year world wide and that almost half of all Canadians go about their daily lives deprived of sleep.  Considering that we spend the majority of our daily lives at work, does this mean that the majority of employees are in fact the walking dead? If this statement is so, what does it mean for your benefit plan?  When comparing a sleep deprived employee to a non-sleep deprived employee,  the following factors need to be considered:

Even after just a few days of sleep deprivation, our bodies shift into a kind of “fast forward aging mode”. Without sleep, we are not letting our bodies repair and recharge and as a result, we age. In the long term, if sleep deprivation continues, we increase the risk of serious health issues costly

issues.  While sleep researchers continue to investigate the  connection between sleep deprivation and everything from high blood pressure and obesity to heart disease and diabetes, the  headlines

speak for themselves:

“Insomnia is bad for the Heart: Increases Blood Pressure”….

“Poor Sleep May Be Associated With the Risk of Heart Disease”….

“Insufficient Sleep May Be Linked To Increased Diabetes Risk”….

High blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, decreased immunity: again, not exactly the ideal candidate for Employee of the Year Award.  And not exactly the best cost/benefit scenario for employee productivity or your benefit plan.

There is no getting away with less sleep… Recognizing the importance of sleep is critical—not only for employee health, but also in turn for the health of your bottom line.  Raising awareness of the importance of sleep to your employees and supporting them in their efforts to establish good sleep patterns is key to motivating behaviour change. Education and support can make all the difference in transforming employees from the walking dead to the walking wakeful—the productive, on the job, wakeful.  Consider including sleep education as part of an employee communications through the human resources department.


  • Productivity and performance
  • Judgement and decision making ability
  • Memory and concentration


  • Sick time, absenteeism,  rate of turnover
  • Negative moods
  • Stress

Helping your employees be more on the job…

In addition to raising awareness of the importance of sleep, and educating your employees about a good night sleep, you can also help create an environment that promotes wakefulness, not fatigue: At the desk…For office environments, dim lighting and high temperatures make for drowsy workers.  Sitting for long periods of time as well as performing repetitive tasks can also lead to drowsiness.  Check lighting, temperature, and noise levels, while trying to structure work to have variety.  Encourage quick stretch breaks to get the blood flowing again.  Depending on the length of work schedules, also consider having a place on site where employees can nap before driving home to help boost energy levels. On the shop floor…

For manufacturing environments, shift workers may try to cope with staying alert during night shifts (as well as sleeping during the day) by resorting to using food, caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol to perk them up or bring them down.  Overuse can lead to negative performance on the job and overall, health problems off the job-ultimately leading to higher health care costs. Encourage shiftworkers to maintain regular eating and sleeping patterns as much as possible and recommend that they have a comfortable, dark, quiet place to sleep during the day.  For additional advice on strategies for structuring you may visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

Too Tired To Ask:

Employee may be related to a sleep disorder.  The problem is that your employees may be in the situation where they don’t know what they don’t know—all they know is that they are tired.  For those who are having sleep issues, a good place to start may be with your Employee Assistance Program because often it takes a professional assessment to sort out the underlying causes of sleep problems.  You could also consider providing them with educational information.

A TO ZZZZ’s of Common Sleep Disorders:

A sleep disorder may be making you tired.  If any of the following sounds like you, contact a health care professional to discuss your symptoms:

INSOMNIA = Combination of difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings and/or waking early

SLEEP APNEA = Breathing stops sometimes hundreds of times each night

RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME = Urge to move legs whenever at rest, interrupting sleep

NARCOLEPSY = Sudden, uncontrollable need to sleep at inappropriate times like talking, eating, driving

Keep A “Sleep Diary” For Two Weeks:

  • · Make note how many hours of sleep you have each night
  • · Track the time you go to bed and the time you wake up
  • · Any snoring, gasping for breath, movement
  • · Feeling tired versus rested each day
  • · Track the amount of alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes you have each day and when consumed throughout the day
  • · Be aware of life events and schedule changes that can effect you..

To determine if you have a sleep disorder it is strongly recommended that you consult with your family  physician.

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