Co-sleep: Designing a workplace based wellness programme to raise awareness of sleep deprivation
Sleep deprivation is a public health issue. A lack of sleep not only harms our bodies’ immune systems but also degrades our capacity to maintain cognitive skills.
However, despite this, sleep deprivation has not been widely investigated in work-based wellness programmes.
In this study, we worked with nine participants in a local manufacture company to raise that awareness.
The common causes of sleep deprivation were identified through the use of wearable trackers and interviews. We also generated design concepts for smart IoT workplace to track and share daytime sleep-related activities such as sleep tracking, diet and water intake.
Through bottom-up and co-design methods, the study found that sleep data can be used to shape the company’s health and safety policy and discussed solutions to deal with the conflicts between personal privacy and the wellness programme.
Using digital technology as part of raising sleep deprivation awareness is a laudable goal, and our study demonstrated that even narrowly focused short-term research can get people aware of the factors influencing their sleep and the importance of quality and duration of sleep.
Through three stages, the project looked at potential causes of sleep deprivation, how IoT could be used to track sleep-related data and looking at how to visualise the sleep data.
People tracked their sleep using wearable AX3 sensors, using a tri-axial accelerometer design from Open Lab, and a paper sleep diary where people could log their own sleep. Many people did not realise they had a lack of sleep before participating in the project, and found their sleep time was less than seven hours.
This was followed by an IoT workshop aimed at generating ideas around tracking sleep-related information automatically. To help non-experts understand the IoTs, cards depicting the various devices such as smart watches or desktop cameras were used.
After the design workshop, the sleep data was uploaded to an interactive dashboard for people to see.
Privacy concerns of sharing personal data
Wellness programmes may cause privacy concerns when sharing personal data in workplace. Our research found that if people are involved in the project and know that the shared private data in the workplace is being used for health purposes then the privacy issues can be addressed.
For the use of data from IoTs all the participants were positively open to tracking the contributing factors that related with sleep even monitoring emotion and stress. They believed that such a wellness programme could help improve mental health for individuals and productivity for the company.
Possible and unexpected use of sleep data
Using sleep data is a debatable topic. The wellness programme needs to consider consulting the work council and employees, such as confirming the hours of sleep needed to come to work and the countermeasure to prevent abuse of the sleep data.
We urge companies to consider the following points in their design of sleep wellness programme:
- The wellness programme should have a flexible monitoring mechanism so that employees don’t feel that their sleep is subject to company management.
- Regarding weekend sleep, the companies should set non-work related nights into private records and will not use the data for any purpose by default other than provide incentives to support weekend behaviour change.
- The companies should include the sleep in other wellness programme as not everyone has sleep deprivation, the wellness programme should be beneficial to every employee.
- If the company found some of their employees have significant sleep deprivation issues, their top priority is to educate and support employees, rather than trying to use data as a discipline tool.
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