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STEP 1: Survey and Education

The simplest method for sleep disorder screening is to survey your employees using questionnaires that are validated for detection of sleep disorder risk. There are a number of surveys available, and multiple surveys can be combined into one overall screening questionnaire. These questionnaires should not generally be used to diagnose whether an individual has a sleep disorder, but rather to identify whether an individual is at high risk and requires further evaluation, either at home or in the clinic.

The setting up of a survey, as well as encouraging a high uptake from your employees, requires the following steps to be considered:

  • Maintain confidentiality: Ideally, the survey would be conducted and the results managed by an independent third party without sharing individual results with the company. Occupational Health Departments within companies may also be able to provide this confidential structure. Your employees may be concerned that their data may be used for other purposes, which will then reduce confidence in the program, and so it is important to outline how confidentiality will be maintained and guaranteed right from the start.
  • Raise awareness of the risks of sleepiness and sleep disorders in the workplace prior to initiating the program: It is recommended that companies institute a sleep education program to outline the risk of sleep loss and sleep disorders and the benefits of better sleep and treatment for sleep disorders. An educational session may also be an opportunity to provide information on sleep hygiene and other countermeasures to improve workplace sleepiness such as sleep timing, naps, light and caffeine.  The short 30-60 minute education session immediately prior to the sleep screening survey may also enhance uptake, in addition to providing time at work to complete the surveys and education seminar.
  • Deliver your education programs and surveys effectively: The delivery method used can have a large effect on the uptake of the program. Ideally, the education and survey session should be expert-led to ensure a high face validity and provision of high quality information. Alternatively, with only a small impact on uptake, sleep experts can train company educators in a 1-2 day workshop - a ‘train-the-trainer’ program – placing the sleep knowledge within the company and permitting the sleep education to become part of standard training courses. An online education and survey program can be helpful for smaller companies that cannot afford a dedicated program, for very large companies that need to reach large numbers of people, or for companies with people in dispersed or remote locations, but the uptake tends to be lower than the individually-led programs.