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Businesses should help staff get enough rest, says Dr Christian Jessen


The expert from 'Embarrassing Bodies' explains why sleep is essential for workplace performance

Businesses should help their employees to get enough rest and sleep, according to television presenter and doctor Christian Jessen.

Speaking to HR magazine Jessen, one of the medical experts on television programmes Embarrassing Bodies and Supersize vs. Superskinny, and doctor for Doctorcall, explained that rest breaks provide benefits to both employer and employee.

“I tell my patients that there are three basic pillars of health: diet, exercise and meditation," he said. "You don’t necessarily need to sit in an uncomfortable position and say ‘om’. It’s important to just rest, to let your mind focus on absolutely nothing. Eastern medicine has been focused on this for a long time, and we’re now catching up with the benefits this provides."

“Your rest and recovery time is so important to your health; you may be doing nothing but your body and brain are busy repairing, collating, consolidating, refreshing and restoring so you are raring to go when next called to action,” added Jessen. “If you don’t give yourself a break the healthy eating and exercise become almost impossible to maintain.

Athletes have long known about the benefits of rest – they know rest days are just as important as training – but it hasn’t yet caught on in the workplace.”

Business expert and career confidence coach Sherry Bevan further explained the business benefits of good rest. “A ‘proper’ break boosts your productivity and your creativity,” she said. “It’s that opportunity to ‘declutter’ your brain and relax. You make more effective decisions when you’re back at work, which has got to be good for your career and for business."

However, research from travel firm ebookers.com has found that nearly a third (30%) of respondents check emails while on holiday, one in seven (14%) make work calls, and nearly one in five (18%) do not set out of office replies so they can work while they are away.

Despite this, more than three in 10 (31%) stated going on holiday made them more productive at work, and 19% had a healthier lifestyle after a trip.

“Nowadays it’s so easy to stay in touch with email and work remotely, but if you keep on responding to emails when you’re away your team will never learn to cope without you," Bevan explained. "It keeps you on the fast track to burnout. And nobody wants that.”

Psychologist and doctor Geoff Rolls also stressed the importance of holidays. “Mental disengagement from work is important and holidays help to provide a buffer between job demands and psychological ill health,” he said. “Research suggests we get on better with our workmates after a holiday, we are more willing to help others, we find work much easier, and our performance levels increase by up to 8%.”