Guest blog by Maddie Wrench, Communications Manager at The Liminal Space
Learning about our own sleep health can be the first step towards a better, healthier working experience. Minoritised communities have been hit by the pandemic even harder than most, with new studies showing a ten percent increase since the first lockdown in the number of people from BAME heritage suffering with sleep problems in the UK. Such systemic inequalities cannot be solved simply by introducing more sleep trackers and self-help apps – it’s time we addressed the structural causes of poor sleep. Paying lip service to our shift workers, particularly those in low-paid roles, is not enough.
Managing fatigue is critical for staff and employers alike, many of whom spend each shift making life-changing decisions for those in their care. Chronic lack of sleep within such high-stress environments can result in long term physical and mental illness, and the financial costs associated with absenteeism and staff turnover due to poor mental health are high too – an estimated £1,716 per employee. Healthcare workers risk their own health daily to care for the most vulnerable in our society, often putting their own wellbeing behind the needs of others. This includes one of our most essential basic needs – decent quality sleep.
Night Club is an award-winning programme that addresses specific needs of shift workers across several industries, including healthcare. It offers interactive learning methods and scientific evidence, allowing staff and employers to engage with sleep experts in a live working environment. In 2021, after achieving success with commercial partners across retail, logistics and transport, we were awarded three years of funding from Impact on Urban Health, allowing us to deliver our programme to key workers in Southwark and Lambeth.
In December 2021 we launched a Night Club pilot at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Trust. With their wellbeing team already planning improvements for night shift workers, and overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants one month on, it has already become our most successful Night Club yet. During sessions, scientists and facilitators collaborated closely with employees to improve their awareness around health and wellbeing.
One long term employee had relied on energy drinks to get through her night shift, but often struggled to sleep when she got home in the morning. The Night Club team were able to provide her with natural alternatives, as well as mindfulness techniques to help her unwind after shifts. After the session she returned with her teammates, who were eager to understand how this could help them, too.
By identifying and addressing the root causes of fatigue, Night Club cultivates a healthier, happier, and more engaged workforce, and a culture of trust and peer to peer support amongst staff at all levels. Night Club is supported by Oxford University’s Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute – ensuring all advice, facilitation and recommendations are based on the leading academic research. We know from independent evaluation that our programme works as an early intervention, having a positive impact on the people and businesses we serve and empowering them with the tools and knowledge they need to manage their working lives.
Partners include Coop, ALDI, GXO, Morrisons, John Lewis, Thames Water, Veolia, TFL, and Guy’s and St. Thomas’ NHS Trust. For more information on how to join the Night Club movement, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org