We love the topic of sleep. We’ve talked about it before here, here, and here. But, today, we are going to talk about how leaders can actually influence the sleep of their team members. A new study shows that supportive leaders can help improve employees’ sleep quality. So, how does that work? Today, we talk about the concept of Sleep Leadership and how you can become an effective sleep leader!

What is Sleep Leadership?

The concept of Sleep Leadership is actually pretty new. However, in the few studies out there, we’ve learned that sleep leaders can help employees with their sleep beyond just being generally supportive of team members. It’s a unique set of behaviors that leaders can learn and practice.

Sleep Leaders support employees in their efforts toward better sleep.

So, what does it mean to be a sleep leader? There are two key types of behaviors that are required.

  1. Path-Goal Clarifying Behaviors:
    • Leaders help employees understand what the steps they can take to accomplish a specific goal.
    • In terms of sleep, this includes educating employees in good practices to help promote sleep. These practices include things like avoiding caffeine after a certain hour, not working close to bedtime, and keeping a consistent sleep schedule.
  2. Emotional Support:
    • Sleep leaders express concern about the sleep quality and quantity of their team members.
    • They actively ask employees about their sleep and offer support.

Seem manageable? We think so. Being a sleep leader does not require a lot of extra time and effort but it can have great benefits!

Why Sleep Leaders are Important

Sleep leaders have been shown to impact subjective sleep quality in their employees. In other words, employees that report having supportive sleep leaders also report better sleep! They had fewer sleep disturbances – meaning they slept through the night with fewer issues. In addition, these employees also indicated having less sleep-related impairment, facing fewer challenges functioning due to poor sleep. Common sleep-related impairment challenges include: feeling sleepy, having trouble staying focused, and having difficulty staying awake. Employees with good sleep leaders had to face these challenges less!

A good sleep leader will remind you to not work right before bed!

We’ve all been there – dealing with restless nights and sleepy days. Wouldn’t it be nice to have fewer of those types of sleep issues? Luckily, this research has some pretty straightforward take-aways. If you are a leader, make sure you are checking in on your employees’ sleep. How are they doing? Do they need help figuring out how to have better sleep habits? Being attuned to your team members’ sleep will help them thrive!

But what if you aren’t a leader? You can still influence and be a sleep leader yourself. Check in with your team members. Ask your leader about their sleep. Start building a culture on your team where people care about each other’s sleep. Lead by example and, hopefully, you can then get the support you need to improve your sleep quality too!

Finally, companies can also have an impact. Provide resources to your leaders about sleep. Give them the tools they need to help them become effective sleep leaders. There’s probably already some great sleep resources provided by your health insurance provider. Make sure everyone knows how to access those tools and encourage your leaders to support employees’ sleep.

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