Enmarket’s Encourage Health Keynote to Focus on Link Between Stress and Sleep

Davana Pilczuk

Monday, October 9th, 2017

In an effort to increase focus on community health issues, Enmarket will host its final keynote for the Encourage Health Series on October 24. I will be speaking on sleep and stress, how they affect your health and your business. Not many companies realize if they are running a 24/7 operation, rely on international travel to stay afloat, or have long shifts that run 10 plus hours in length, there’s a high chance their people are dealing with chronic stress. 

As much as we ask employees to take care of their health outside of the job, there’s a great opportunity for companies to help their people reduce stress inside the gate. One of the best things a company can do for its people’s stress level is to look specifically at three shifts: late night shifts, lengthy shifts that run 10 or more hours in a row and shifts that require transatlantic travel.

What many people don’t realize is that sleep, or rather lack there of, is a major contributor to stress and health issues. When people have to work shifts that interrupt their natural sleep cycles, there are health risks that can start to pop up. Businesses, like hospitals, who have a standard third shift, tend to see higher rates of obesity and weight related ailments in their night shifts versus the day shifts. The reason has to do with how sleep plays a role in the hormones that regulate appetite and stress levels. When we are sleep deprived or we work during the hours that our body naturally wants to be asleep, our blood sugar, blood pressure, immune system and digestive system are all negatively affected.

Crossing time zones for travel are also extremely hard on our systems. Time changes usually indicate a loss of sleep time and an added inconvenience of having to adjust to a new local time. This disruption affects our quality of sleep and also throws off the gut, since our bellies tend to slow down during the wee hours of the night. Arriving at a destination that is later than your tummy is set to, can lead to digestive problems. Science is finding more connections between the gut and stress levels, which means travelers are ripe for higher levels of stress due to gut imbalances, and the additional lack of sleep they are also tackling.

If we operate chronically sleep deprived, which many of us are, our performance will also suffer. At the bare minimum, the brain needs sleep to survive. To perform our best from a cognitive standpoint, we also need sleep. Sleep is the time when the brain shifts the items you learned today from short term memory into long term memory. Sleep is also needed for physical recover and is the key time the immune system goes into over drive. When we operate with a sleep debt, it hurts our own body’s recovery process and cognitive ability to perform well. And when sleep is compromised, it sets us up for anxiety and mental health issues.

If you have people traveling or working late night, long shifts, look into setting up a fatigue risk management program. We can’t always avoid those undesirable shifts, but we can plan for them and take steps to help people improve their health if they must work tired.

If you are interested in learning about the science of sleep and stress, please register at enmarkstations.com/EncourageHealthSeries to reserve a spot. Local businesses in the Savannah area are encouraged to attend to learn more about how sleep deprivation increases our chances for chronic illness and how it has a huge impact to our business’ safety record. The talk will run from 11:30-1pm at the Savannah Morning News building on Chatham Parkway.