Stress at work has Canadians tossing and turning

Canadians - particularly men - are suffering from poor sleep quality due to stresses on the job.

Many of today's workers around the globe are operating on a sleep debt, and Canada is no exception. Indeed, surveys have shown Canadians are among the most sleep-deprived people in the world, as there always seems to be too many things to do in the average day, but not enough time to fit them all in.

And by the time Canadians do hit the hay, work-related stress seems to be preventing them from getting a good night's rest, according to the results of a newly released poll.

Almost 40 percent of employees in Canada say their sleep quality is suffering due to anxieties emanating from their work life, a recent survey conducted by Accountemps found. Indeed, only 12 percent of respondents in the poll said the stresses of the office never kept them from falling asleep, suggesting that the pressures of employment on workers' well-being are quite common.

33 percent of men getting just four to six hours of sleep
While several analyses done by researchers from other countries – such as the United States – reveal individuals' lack of sleep is a universal issue, it's particularly rampant in Canada. According to the Canadian Men's Health Foundation (CMHF) roughly one-third of 30- to 49-year-old men get, on average, four to six hours of sleep on a nightly basis, Global News reported. That's well short of the seven to eight hours health experts recommends for peak functionality.

Men appear to be more vulnerable to poor sleep quality, as 43 percent of men in the Accountemps survey said they often lie awake at night. The same is true for women, just not quite as prevalent, with 37 percent indicating they frequently experience sleepless nights.

David King, Accountemps president, said employees keeping their nose to the grindstone is having its toll on workers' health, which may already be adversely impacting their performance on the job.

"As business needs evolve to keep pace with an increasingly connected and mobile world, it can be challenging to leave our professional lives at the office," King explained. "If work is weighing on you, schedule time with your manager to address your concerns. Be clear about the off-hours impact it's having on you and discuss where you can adjust deadlines, bring in extra help, or share projects to alleviate pressure."

Optimal is seven to eight hours of sleep each night 
The sleep sweet spot, according to doctors and other health aficionados, is between seven and eight hours per night. In order to get it, recommendations include going to bed and awaking at the same time every day, as the body thrives on routine. They also suggest doing activities that can put you in a sleepy state, like reading a book or having a light snack before bedtime, like popcorn. 

However, as a separate analysis shows, around 25 percent of Canadian men and women get less than the seven to eight hour of sleep recommendation, CBC News reported from a 2017 study conducted by the Rand Corporation.

"Insufficient sleep has been found to be associated with a range of negative health and social outcomes, including adverse performance effects at school and in the labor market," CBC News quoted from the Rand Corporation's report.

All told, Canadians lose an average of 600,000 working hours annually to sleep debt, the report said. That's a large number, but not as big as what's lost in the U.S., where an average of 10 million working hours per year are frittered away due to limited shut eye.

Ilene Rosen, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, stressed employees and their bosses can't allow this issue to go unchecked any longer.

"Working long hours and sleeping less than the recommended seven or more hours has become a badge of honor in many industries, despite evidence that proves a lack of sleep hurts productivity, safety and overall health," Rosen explained. "It is essential for employers to promote health and safety by creating a workplace culture that values the importance of sleep."

King echoed Rosen's sentiments, saying managers and executives should perform "check-ins" on their staff to ensure they're getting the attention they need to resolve factors that may be preventing them from sleeping soundly.

"Well-rested employees are often more engaged and productive," King advised.