Why Sleep Matters For Bankers and Traders

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By Vik Panda

If a recession is coming, maybe October 14th was an appropriate day for the stock market to plummet.

That’s the day after the last full moon, and based on one million nights of recorded sleep, data shows people will be waking up with less sleep that day. Similarly, studies have shown that poorly performing markets coincide with full moons. Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising given traders and bankers are already under tremendous stress, working long hours and prone to the worst sleep habits. Could the full moon be pushing them over the edge?

Ok, there’s definitely not enough data to claim a correlation. But putting aside amusing speculation, the idea that sleep matters in the financial sector is not daft at all.

Sleep

Banks have increasingly invested in the sleep of employees. They send their teams to “sleep schools.” Benefits managers for large organizations, and PEOs for hedge funds are investing in professional services to manage sleep benefits.

Research has shown that the aggressive hours documented among young employees in financial services tend to catch up with them after three years. Their health and focus begin to take a serious hit, potentially leading to what can be described as “drunken” behavior.

Deloitte points out regardless of the moon, less sleep has been linked to an increase in unethical behavior. On the other side of the coin, Aetna has claimed an increase in worker productivity by 69 minutes per month after implementing an incentives program to reward employees who sleep more. McKinsey draws a connection between leadership effectiveness and sleep health, reinforcing sleep is not simply a concern for frontline shift workers, but the top of the organizations and the top performers.

Sleep is simply very important in high stakes environments as researchers who have supported sleep health in international militaries and special forces units will tell you.

These growing insights are helping to drive the larger sleep economy that has grown in the last decade. Tech companies are attempting to address strong demand from a population that already spends too much annually in out-of-pocket medical expenses, and there is a larger opportunity to do better if we look at the combined $1 trillion poor sleep delivers in economic loss, and the $30 billion of unmet need for treatment.

But like every variable that can be exercised for gain, or to mitigate loss, the winners aren’t those that pile on solutions, hoping for an ad hoc benefit, but those that streamline their effort through a calculated, scalable solution. Yes, software engineers also don’t get as much sleep as they should, but they have the key in terms of building the digital architecture and hardware that can take the benefits of sleep clinics, and make those benefits easier to access in the form of mobile technology and smart coaching.

Just as hedge funds, consultancies and banks win when they embrace digital, benefits managers can look at sleep as a huge opportunity to streamline and scale how employees deliver for the team.

Digital for health

Digitizing the idea of teaching employees how to sleep and scaling it is within reach. Adapted, personalized programs can now go mobile to address sleep deprivation and sleep disorders in an integrated fashion. New solutions are becoming available direct-to-consumer and to healthcare providers. 

A core component of a solution can be in-app cognitive behavioral coaching program of exercises, tools and advice designed to help the user address the thought patterns and habits at the heart of a behavioral problem and establish a healthier routine.

Sensors integrated into wearables can now measure brain activity (EEG), heart rate, respiration and movement, providing users with a complete, detailed overview of sleep habits. The data collected can adapt a program to fit the individual’s needs and track the program’s impact on their health.

Digital transformation in sleep health has more potential than just another nifty gadget. Cloud computing, microservices and a holistic, integrated approach can change sleep health at the organizational level.

And when the full moon comes, and financial markets roil, the best rested can go hunting.

Vik Panda is Managing Director, North American for sleep health company Dreem.