Blue Monday, the third Monday in January is supposedly the most depressing day of the year. It is estimated to have cost the UK economy £93 billion.

According to studies, lack of sleep can have a profound impact on moods, performance at work and undeniably is linked to depression. It is possible a good night’s sleep could minimise the impact Blue Monday has on employees and business.

Professor Colin Espie, world sleep expert from the University of Oxford and co-founder of Sleepio, said: “Sleep affects us on various levels – mentally, emotionally and physically – so when we have had no or insufficient sleep, we feel the consequences.

“Physically we will feel lethargic and drained, mentally we become slowed down with poorer concentration and memory, and emotionally we may become irritable and depressed, with bursts of hyperactivity.”

Espie has been measuring the world’s sleep since March 2010 through the Great British Sleep Survey and the World Sleep Survey.

He said: “In fact, sleep problems affect one in 3 of us in the UK at any one time, and about 10 per cent of the population on a chronic basis, with energy levels (60 per cent), mood (48 per cent), relationships with other people (35 per cent) and physical health (28 per cent) cited in the World Sleep Survey as the areas most impacted by poor sleep.

“The preliminary information from the first World Sleep Survey also found that professionally, poor sleep is a productivity killer as each full-time employee in the UK on average loses eight and a half work days every year due specifically to poor sleep.

“Respondents to the survey chose concentration (46 per cent), ability to complete work (38 per cent) and ability to stay awake during the day (27 per cent) as the three top issues affecting  their productivity after a night of poor sleep.”

“Employers are now also starting to wake up to the importance that sleep has in their employees’ lives, especially as poor sleep account for 24 per cent of the costs of workplace accidents.

“More companies are looking to offer their employees more than the standard subsidised gym membership or travel card. Helping to improve their sleep and thereby mental wellbeing is a critical part of this.”

Meantime Shaun Subel, Director at VitalityHealth, comments on Blue Monday: “Mental wellbeing is proven to link to both productivity and physical wellbeing, meaning individuals’ physical health and work output are at risk when they suffer from stress or depression. Research from Britain’s Healthiest Company shows that almost three quarters (73%) of the working population are suffering from at least one aspect of work-related stress. The most common sources of such stress are unrealistic demands and time pressures in the workplace (51%), not being consulted about change (31%), and a lack of control in the tasks people are doing at work (27%).

“These stresses may be felt more acutely around Blue Monday as employees struggle to cope with the short winter days, cold weather and low motivation levels they may be experiencing at this time of year. We also know that there are many other sources of stress, unrelated to the workplace, which can have a parallel impact on productivity. One source of stress especially associated with this time of year is financial concerns, which our results show affects 23% of respondents.

“Companies are increasingly aware of the effects of poor mental health on work performance and wellbeing, and many are putting measures in place to counteract the ill effects of stress and low morale. Almost 60% (59%) of companies provide stress management information and a third of companies offer work-life balance programmes (34%) and stress management programmes (32%). However, despite growing awareness of the importance of mental wellbeing in the workplace, it remains for many a complex and emotive issue, and therefore better communication and authentic support from leadership is crucial in informing employees of the benefits of engaging with these initiatives to help reduce stress and improve morale.”

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