Skip to content

This is why companies need to follow Meta's lead and offer sleep support for new parents

Companies are starting to prioritise sleep support to employees, including for new parents who are struggling with sleep deprivation while raising their children.

In January this year, Meta announced that it was offering access to a paediatric sleep consultant to its benefit portal – whereby employees who are parents are offered a discounted rate on sleep training, tailored to helping parent and baby alike to develop a healthy sleeping routine.

This is becoming particularly necessary in the case of new parents balancing a return to work with their childcare duties, says Sleep Well With Hannah founder, Hannah Love: "With more parents needing to work alongside their baby, they can prepare by ensuring their baby can sleep well and independently. Having a baby that needs cuddling to sleep just isn’t manageable if you need to work.

"Every day I see how juggling work and a baby with little support from the NHS is leaving new parents in unsustainable situations," she adds.

In a bid to offer support, Love is “approaching companies to step in and pay for tailored support as part of their maternity package for mums”.

Shifts in recent years, including the rise of remote living and the cost of living crisis, are making these interventions more necessary than ever, she explains.

Missed sleep can have a severe effect on parents' ability to do their jobs. And this is a prevalent problem: some 59 per cent of parents with babies under one have said that their child slept for less than four hours at a stretch, according to a recent survey conducted by the Lullaby Trust.

Parents and non-parents alike, missed sleep has a serious impact on employees' ability to do their jobs: a report from research firm RAND Europe found that sleep deprivation cost the UK economy £37 billion in lost productivity. That's not accounting for the effects it might have on individual mental health and wellbeing. For women, it also affects our professional futures in a large-scale way – a 2022 study found that sleep quality impacts women’s mood and work ambitions.

While Meta is the well-known high profile example of this trend, it is not the only company offering sleep support for its employees. The Sleep Charity works in cooperation with companies and institutions such as West Yorkshire Police, Holland & Barrett, Waitrose & Partners and Premier in on its Workplace Sleep Ambassador Training programme, where team members or managers undergo training in order to better support fellow employees in conversations around sleep health.

Lizzie, an assistance ambulance practitioner for South East Ambulance service, tells GLAMOUR about her safety concerns of weighing up sleep and work, and how taking a sleep course helped her. “As ambulance crew I am responsible for both driving ambulances and treating patients," she explains. "I was sleep deprived and very worried about returning to work, especially for the safety of both my patients and colleagues during long shifts throughout the day and night.

“Hannah’s sleep course enabled me to return to work with a baby who was now sleeping from 8pm-7am, every night! I was also able to confidently leave my baby with my husband or parents and know that she would happily sleep without help from me.”

While Lizzie's story is an extreme example, it brings into focus the importance of considering your sleep health as a new parent and how it impacts your working life, health and your baby's future.

“While not every parent is looking at a safety issue, it is a real concern for many,” Love explains. “And a lack of sleep can affect everything from productivity to career progression.” It arguably feeds into the gendered gap when it comes to career progression at work – yet another roadblock for women to clear when they return to work after being on maternity leave and having a child.

But the good news is, things are moving forward. “Employers are finally starting to see the huge value of new parent skills in the workplace,” Love says. “Who wouldn’t want an employee who can multitask, show compassion, build relationships, has great non-verbal communication skills, heightened stress management?

"These are all key skills that new mums have in bucketloads.”

This article was originally published on Glamour UK.

Share this article: