Sleep quality includes more than just time asleep. It includes the depth and quality of the specific stages of sleep that the brain orchestrates in a precise sequence through the night, known as sleep 'architecture'. It includes all the downstream effects of the hormonal and neuronal activity that these stages set in motion. It includes a necessary match between the circadian timing of these events and the day-night cycle, as well as the social and work schedules we impart to this timing. Circadian rhythm shifts and mismatches between our "master" clock and peripheral body tissue cells have been identified recently as a serious cause of the hormonal imbalances that contribute to metabolic syndrome. Restorative brain and cardiometabolic processes must occur with proper timing or emotional and cardiovascular stress will inflate. Aside from the physical performance of the athlete and serious fitness enthusiast, performance means body and emotional wellbeing to the employee, and equally, economic wellbeing to the employer.
In the same manner that only a few years ago, employers and employees alike valued an individual's ability to "soldier on" at work even when sick, so also, pathological sleepiness and poor sleep quality barely registered as a legitimate concern from both the employer's and employee's vantage. In fact, 'weariness' has traditionally been viewed as a symptom of hard work. That perspective has been dramatically altered in recent years. Individual worker productivity increasingly translates into the business bottom-line. Just as it makes more sense today to stay home and take care of yourself when you are sick (and don't infect everyone else), so also, quality sleep and other positive lifestyle behaviors are understood to translate into lower long-term healthcare costs and higher business productivity. Moreover, safety in the work place is highly correlated with sleep quality. Collectively, these issues simply mirror the relationship at the heart of sleep's role and function for basic health and wellbeing. The same question arises for the employer: should my business thrive— or merely survive?