UI to launch campaign against sleep deprivation


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University of Iowa staff members are tired, and officials are working on initiatives to try to get them more sleep.

A campaign to ensure faculty and staff are well-rested will start next fall, members of the UI’s Staff Council decided at its meeting Jan. 12.

In order to improve sleep numbers at the UI, Carol Wozniak-Rebhuhn, a UI faculty-staff services specialist, said the campaign would include counseling services and a website to provide tips and ideas for getting enough rest.

“I thought it was a very interesting campaign — there was a lot of truth behind it,” said Staff Council member Kathy Last. “It will be interesting to see how it plays out. I think it’s good that the university is taking steps to be more proactive.”

Shaun Vercera, a senior systems administrator for the UI’s Department of Psychology, said research shows a short rest in the afternoon — usually of about 15 to 20 minutes — is good for employee productivity and individual health.

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“Most research suggests that generally people don’t get enough sleep,” Vercera said.

Many also felt the campaign would also help the UI economically.

“I think it’s very interesting to look at those studies,” said Staff Council member Steve Milder. “With the economic downturn, it’s beneficial to make current employees more productive and take this as a learning experience.”

Milder acknowledged his personal lack of sleep and the importance for his peers.

“I know I don’t get enough sleep, and this would not only benefit me but the university, too,” Milder said.

Wozniak-Rebhuhn gave a presentation at the meeting detailing the focus of the campaign. It will stress the benefits of sleep and the relationship adequate rest has with productivity and health.

Increased rest is also listed as a major goal in the 2010 University of Iowa Annual Report.

According to the report, the UI looks to “develop a campuswide public campaign to raise awareness regarding the issue of sleep insufficiency and its relationship to overall health and productivity.”

During the presentation, Wozniak-Rebhuhn gave examples of sleep studies done at three companies, including two banks, said Staff Council member George Hospodarsky. The companies involved looked to how their employees’ performance would change if they slept more.

Hospodarsky, who called the results of the study “interesting,” said Wozniak-Rebhuhn spoke of employees’ improved customer service and increased profits.

According to a study done by Timothy Morgenthaler from the Mayo Clinic, the average adult needs seven to nine hours of sleep per night. However, the average adult usually only gets 6.7 hours of sleep a night.

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