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Kansas City Companies Want Employees To Sleep Better, Schedule Early Meeting To Discuss

Courtesy of St. Luke's Health System

We know we need a good night's sleep. It’s good for our health, our cognition and productivity and our relationships.

It's so important that now, some Kansas City companies want to help their employees sleep better at night. The KC Chamber of Commerce is hosting a forum on sleep for the business community on Thursday morning. (Alas, it starts at 7:30 a.m.)

“It isn’t just a business case; we can tie it directly to productivity and performance,” Hailey Prophet, a senior well-being specialist at Garmin International, told KCUR's Gina Kaufmann on Central Standard on Wednesday.

While sleeping on the job might be frowned upon here, it’s part of the work culture in other countries, Prophet said of Garmin, which has multiple locations in Taiwan.

“Many businesses there, including the Garmin locations, have sleeping decks, they have sleeping rooms, they have lots of opportunities for those individuals to go take restful times throughout their day.”

Garmin offers meditation rooms and quiet spaces for its employees at its Olathe headquarters, but work naps haven't yet reached the states.

“I think that’s going to be a slow shift that we start seeing in the Americas, but it’s going to be coming,” Prophet said. “This is a trend. Sleep is important to employers. We’re starting be able to make that correlation directly.”

At St. Luke’s Health System, employees receive discounts on their health insurance premiums if they self-report that they get enough sleep. That wellness initiative, however, is still in its infancy, said Jason Graff, the medical director of sleep disorders at St. Luke’s.

“I think that we’re still in the process of raising awareness of how important sleep is for the common American,” he said.

A good night's sleep, he said, is long-enough and deep enough so a person feels rested and alert throughout the day, and doesn't fall asleep when they're bored for five minutes or sitting on the couch watching TV.

To get to that point, Prophet said, adults need to establish a bedtime routine.

“It sounds so silly, but adults actually need it way more than kids,” she said.

Adults are distracted by electronics, phones, computers, tablets, TVs and having the lights on all the time. They need to dim the lights, reduce screen time and alcohol intake before bed, and incorporate workouts throughout the day.

“We’ve got to create an environment that’s going to be conducive to sleep so that we’re not laying there," she said, "watching the time tick by and stressing over not falling asleep.”

Jen Chen is associate producer for KCUR's Central Standard. Reach out to her at jen@kcur.org and follow her on Twitter @JenChenKC.

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