A study published in Sleep Health has found that people who are allowed to set their own work schedule ended up sleeping more and were healthier as a result. Researchers followed 474 employees at an informational technology company, with half serving as a control group and half permitted some flexibility in their work schedule. They were required to work the same number of hours as the control group, but they were allowed complete freedom to decide when those hours were and where they would work—office, home, or elsewhere. All participants wore a sleep-monitoring watch.
Twelve months into the study, researchers found that the group with scheduling flexibility were sleeping an average of eight minutes more per night, which is about another hour of sleep per week.
“In the absence of sufficient sleep, we are not as attentive or alert, we process information more slowly, miss or misinterpret social and emotional cues and decision making is impaired,” said Orfeu Buxton, one of the study’s coauthors. “Work can be a calling and inspirational, as well as a paycheque, but work should not be detrimental to health. It is possible to mitigate some of the deleterious effects of work by reducing work-family conflict and improving sleep.”