When you ask your team members “How are you?” a common response is “Tired, you?” This response is running rampant in offices all over the country, but have you considered the effects of a poorly rested workforce?

The cost of employee insomnia in the U.S. is approximately $411 billion and 1.2 million lost workdays per year. The amount of sleep your employees get a night may not be something you typically think about, but it’s an issue for many people and it’s affecting productivity at your organization. Not to mention that approximately 13 percent of work injuries can be attributed to poor sleep. The bottom line is that investing in helping your employees develop healthy sleep patterns will pay off tenfold.

Here are a few ways you can help employees get better sleep:

  • Keep reasonable hours. Watch overtime closely to avoid burnout and stress. If you notice certain employees are clocking in too much overtime, confront the issue as soon as possible.
  • Use blue-enriched white lighting in your space. Research proves that using cognition-enhancing blue light in the daytime improves sleep at night. Improved focus, productivity and mood are other benefits of blue-enriched white lighting.
  • Get outside in the morning. Walking 30 minutes in the morning light is an effective way to improve sleep, according to studies. Sunlight helps regulate the body’s internal clock. If walking is not an option, consider having an outdoor morning meeting or even opening the windows or blinds near workspaces.
  • Encourage your employees to practice mindfulness. Research has shown that practicing mindfulness reduces insomnia, fatigue and depression.

Can practicing mindfulness really help employees get better sleep and improve their productivity?

Absolutely! A good night’s rest is critical to be alert, focused and productive at work. Plain and simple, well-rested employees are more productive, safer and add more value to your organization.

A study done by JAMA Internal Medicine included 49 middle-aged and older adults who had sleep issues. These issues included not being able to fall asleep, not waking up feeling refreshed and not being able to stay asleep. Half the participants completed a six-week mindfulness program. This program focused on meditation and exercises to help them stay present. The other half of the participants completed a general course on improving their sleep habits. Both groups met once a week for two hours for six consecutive weeks. At the end of the six-week study, the group that participated in mindfulness training reported less insomnia, fatigue and depression in comparison to the other group.

Mindfulness as medicine

What’s so special about practicing mindfulness? Why does it work as a way to fight insomnia?

Dr. Herbert Benson, director emeritus of the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind-Body Medicine, says, “Mindfulness meditation is just one of a smorgasbord of techniques that evoke the relaxation response.”

Benson says sleep issues are tied to stress for many people. The “relaxation response,” a term he coined in the 1970s, is a deep physiological shift and the polar opposite of the stress response. For many people, achieving the relaxation response must be intentional and takes practice. Practicing mindfulness is an excellent way to achieve a relaxation response in one’s body and mind.

Mindfulness involves focusing on your breathing patterns and calming your busy mind by eliminating distractions and being present. There are a variety of techniques that all evoke a relaxation response. Mindfulness allows you to discover what techniques work best for you in many situations. For example, you may use a different technique to fight anger or frustration than you use to calm your mind before sleeping.

Introducing mindfulness to your employees

Starting to practice mindfulness alone can be intimidating. Beginners will greatly benefit from structured meditation. Whil provides guided meditation mini-courses that lead employees through simple practices. These practices aim to help employees achieve a relaxation response and continue their day feeling more focused and resilient. Whil’s mini-courses cover topics on stress resilience, conflict, productivity, sleep and many more. Give your employees the gift of better sleep and see astounding effects within your organization. Take a demo tour today.

This post originally appeared on Blog.Whil.com.

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