Work-Sleep Balance

Workers With 4-Day Weeks Mostly Catch Up On Sleep, Survey Claims

Here’s why that’s a very good thing — especially for parents.

Originally Published: 
A woman pressing the stop button on her alarm clock.
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As more workplaces test out the four-day workweek, results have begun to emerge regarding how such a shift affects businesses and workers. Plenty of research has been positive — workers report being as productive or even more productive, happier, and able to do more things outside of work, but there’s still more data to come. The latest revelation from one survey is that employees who switch to a reduced workweek use a significant chunk of their free time to catch up on sleep. Here’s why that’s great.

First of all, it’s not like people who have switched to the four-day-week are spending an entire day off napping in a blanket fort. Rather, workers who shifted to 32-hour workweeks are getting an average of 7.58 hours of sleep each night, according to new research from Boston College sociologist and economist Juliet Schor. That added slumber amounts to almost an additional hour of sleep each night compared to what they logged while working a traditional 40-hour week. That is, in a word, significant.

Schor surveyed 304 workers at 16 companies in the U.S., Australia, and Ireland who are participating in a six-month trial of reduced work weeks run by the nonprofit organization 4 Day Workweek Global. Her preliminary data showed that workers on four-day schedules not only got more rest, but also saw improvement in various well-being and productivity measures, such as work-family balance and life satisfaction.

"I wasn't surprised that people are getting a little more sleep, but I was surprised at how robust the changes were," Schor told Bloomberg. She also noted that the increase in well-being and productivity measures might be correlated with additional time spent sleeping.

Such a correlation makes sense considering the ways sleep deprivation is known to mess with people's minds. More than the nebulous concept of simply not sleeping well, people are considered sleep deprived when they get fewer than seven hours of sleep each night. The percentage of people beneath that threshold dropped from 42.6% to 14.5% when they went to a four-day work schedule. That is no small change!

The pilot program isn’t just beneficial for workers, however. Forty-one companies participating in the pilot program were surveyed three months after initiating the change, and 88% of respondents stated that the four-day week is working ‘well’ for their business. In addition, 46% of respondents indicated that their business productivity has ‘maintained around the same level,’ while 34% said that it ‘improved slightly,’ and 15% reported significant improvement.

With the changes working well for most parties, it’s unsurprising that 86% of respondents indicated that they would be ‘extremely likely’ or ‘likely’ to consider retaining the four-day week policy after the trial concluded.

A truncated workweek could be especially helpful for parents who are constantly chasing quality rest. Although the extra sleep from a shortened workweek isn’t enough to counterbalance the 20 hours of sleep that new parents miss out on weekly, it does put a dent in the deficit, assuming you can master the right hacks to get your baby sleeping as much as you’d like them to.

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