Sleep and Burnout

By: Mary Jane Durkin

Burnout on the rise

Does the melting face emoji hit a little too close to home these days? You aren’t alone. Most of us have heard that burnout has been on the rise during the pandemic, and a recent Visier study put numbers to it. [1] The study reported 89% of employees have experienced burnout over the past year, largely as a result of taking on more work during the pandemic.

Any time 89% of employees report the same issue, employers should take note. Burnout leaves a particularly negative impact in its wake . It affects employers and employees alike by degrading not only their health and sense of purpose, but also their professional efficacy and likelihood to leave their job.

Why does this matter?

While burnout is not yet classified as a medical condition, its impact on our health certainly has a broad and meaningful reach, and is now recognized by both the WHO and Mayo Clinic [2][3]. A comprehensive review of the impact of burnout found that physically, burnout most commonly increases risk for cardiovascular disease and musculoskeletal pain. Psychologically, burnout increases risks for insomnia and depression most commonly. These issues should never go ignored, especially so during a global pandemic.

Health outcomes aren’t the only thing impacted by rising levels of burnout: professional consequences abound as well. Burnout results in both presenteeism and absenteeism, which, as the review notes, leads to both a loss of manpower and productivity. [4] Even more consequential is the impact to attrition: Visier’s study found that 70% employees who experienced burnout said they’d willing to leave their current job for another organization with better burnout resources. You don’t need to look far to see how burnout plays a role in part of what’s driving the global “Great Resignation”.

What can companies do?

The good news is specific actions exist for both companies and individuals to prevent and burnout and improve employee wellbeing. The list of options is long and includes everything from company-wide days off to manager training, an interesting (and cost effective) place to start is sleep.

One of the most common psychological outcomes of burnout is an increased risk for insomnia. Perhaps not surprisingly, fatigue and exhaustion play a role in burnout. Multiple studies have found that insomnia and burnout have a bidirectional relationship, suggesting that quality sleep can not only prevent burnout, but also improve it.

What’s more,additional mental health resources are what employees want: 31% of employees who reported increased levels of burnout said additional mental health support would reduce burnout.

Our mission at Somni is to help organizations and individuals solve the most challenging sleep problems through evidenced based behavioral medicine. If you’re interested in improving your organization’s sleep, and reducing burnout, reach out to say hello and learn more about how we can help.