New data has revealed that almost a quarter (23%) of employees have suffered from insomnia over the past year as a result of work-induced stress.

The findings highlight the dangers of falling into a ‘negative stress/sleep cycle’, with a lack of sleep then contributing to heightened stress levels.

As people got back into their working routines this year, the issue appears to have become more widespread. Google searches for ‘insomnia treatments’ have increased by nearly half (47%) from January to February.

Women appear to suffer to a greater extent, with as many as 27 percent experiencing insomnia, making them 42 percent more susceptible to sleep deprivation. The NHS warns that insomnia and trouble sleeping can be the first warning signs of burnout, anxiety, or depression.

Experts are concerned that increased stress at work is pushing workers to ‘breaking point’. Over the last year, one in three UK employees have experienced their mental wellbeing decline and 31 percentof employees stated that their physical health has also deteriorated over the past year.

Jeff Kahn, co-founder of Rise Science and published sleep expert, says: 

“The value of sleep isn’t fully understood or endorsed in our 24/7, always-on culture, so focusing on sleep when your schedule is filled to the brim may require a bit of a mindset shift.

“Productivity and sufficient sleep aren’t mutually exclusive, but are in fact two sides of the same coin. The more seriously we take our sleep, the healthier, happier, and better performing we’ll be during our waking hours and at work.

“Before you head to bed, find distraction by socialising or doing physical activity. Or mindfulness therapies, cognitive therapy or interpersonal therapy may help. At night, performing a “brain dump” can be helpful. Research shows writing down future to-dos can help alleviate sleep-threatening thoughts.”

Susan Miller, sleep technician at Sleep Mattress says:

“Stress and anxiety interfere with sleep due to increased cortisol levels, which have not declined as they should throughout the day. If cortisol levels remain elevated due to stress, it can cause sleep deprivation. Thus, it is important to wrap up your office work a couple of hours before bedtime.

“Every adult individual needs seven to nine hours of sleep. And a healthy sleep routine will include: getting the appropriate amount of sleep every night; sleeping and waking up at the same time each day; a cool, dark, and quiet sleeping environment.”

What do employees want from their companies?

It seems that employers are not doing enough to help. A recent study found that a staggering 85 percent of employees want their company to be more proactive in boosting employee health, wellbeing and healthy habits. The UK-wide Health, wellbeing & habits study asked over 1,000 employees for insights into their health status over the last year, and was conducted by disposable vape retailer Vape Club. The study also found that:

  • 33 percent of employees think training managers to provide better support is the answer

  • 32 percent of workers believe in promoting the use of sick leave when people are struggling with physical or mental health

  • 25 percent of employees want access to stress management training

It’s important for employers to encourage healthy working hours, which will support a healthy nighttime routine and give people time to unwind.

Companies also benefit when contributing to their employee’s health and wellbeing: it leaves 38 percent feeling more productive at work. Plus, when properly supported, a third (33%) of employees feel engaged with the work they do and 31 percent say they’re less likely to seek job opportunities elsewhere





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.