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Sheryl Sandberg calls on CEOs to make sure employees get enough sleep

Sheryl Sandberg
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Sheryl Sandberg

A good night's sleep can be the difference between a productive, efficient day and an exhausted, sloppy one. But is your rest your boss's responsibility?

For media mogul Arianna Huffington's new online venture, Thrive, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg argues that maybe it is.

"We have to acknowledge that not everyone can get the sleep they need," Sandberg writes. "So many people out there, so many single mothers and others, work multiple jobs, and we don't have the safety net we need for people to make sure that they can take care of their own health, and that we help take care of them."

She adds, "It's incumbent upon all of us who run companies, and all of us, to make sure that people can make ends meet and have the ability to get a good night's sleep."

"It's incumbent upon all of us who run companies, and all of us, to make sure that people can make ends meet and have the ability to get a good night's sleep." -Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO

Sandberg is not the only top executive taking her employees' sleep needs seriously. Earlier this year, Aetna Chairman and CEO Mark Bertolini described starting an incentive program for his workers, telling CNBC, "If they can prove they get 20 nights of sleep for seven hours or more in a row, we will give them $25 a night, up $500 a year."

Chronic lack of sleep is indeed a "public health problem," according to the CDC, and also a productivity one that costs the U.S. economy an estimated $411 billion a year.

High-functioning executives swear by the restorative power of rest. Alphabet's Eric Schmidt, Microsoft's Satya Nadella, and Amazon's Jeff Bezos are among those who aim to get around eight hours each night.

Perhaps that's why so many wellness programs at top companies, including Facebook, feature futuristic in-office "napping pods."

Still, if the point is to allow employees to maximize sleep at night, when it does the most good, the most useful fix might be French-style rules about the "right to disconnect," under which workers aren't expected to answer emails after dinner and on weekends.