Myke Thomas

What sort of effect has a lack of sleep have on your work performance?


Sleep deprivation is not only destructive for your career but your health too. You may not have the idea of how it severely impacts your work performance. According to the World Sleep Day Society, about 46% of the individuals who are sleep-deprived frequently commit more mistakes and miss work in the office as compared to that 15 % of individuals who get adequate sleep. So, if you think you belong to the category of worrying statistics, you should reconsider your everyday sleeping habits. Most significantly, because there is a relationship between sleep deprivation and reduced performance at work.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that healthy adults should sleep for seven hours minimum each night, with a suggested range of sleep between seven to eight hours. However, according to Hult’s research of professional surveys, average sleep hours comprise of six hours and 28 minutes.

Many respondents of the survey reported workplace performance getting poorer due to exhaustion, with half of the individuals admitted to trying to stay attentive in meetings, finding it difficult to create new ideas and taking more time to complete tasks. With a lack of attention to details and focus and weakened creative capacities, individuals also specified reduced motivation for learning new things and manage challenging demands.

It has been estimated that about one in every three American individuals doesn't get enough sleep consistently. The causes vary poor sleeping habits, sleep sicknesses like obstructive sleep apnea, job-related limitations on sleep and shift work. Irrespective of the cause, there is no “getting used to” or adjusting to sleep loss—it upsets all humans regardless of health, age, or job title.

As you take enough sleep, your memories are re-energized, your brain cells connections are more strengthened, and information remains for the long-term. Without getting sufficient quality sleep, you can become more absent-minded. Some studies propose that sleeping soon after you pick up new information helps you to recall and retain that information.

The Relationship between Productivity and Sleep

In the previous few years, many successful organizations have started to view sleep deficiency as an employee health issue and productivity killer. Kallysleep mentioned that to overcome this, they’re actively following ways to gently raise the spirits of their workers in the correct direction.

Jena McGregor of The Washington Post says, “A growing awareness of the dangers of sleep deprivation on health -- and therefore, its impact on insurance costs and worker productivity -- is prompting companies to try to improve their employees’ rest,”. Johnson and Johnson have offered a digital health coaching program for its employees to battle insomnia. The program involves relaxation videos and an online sleep diary for mobile devices. Google hosts and organizes ‘sleeposium’ events.

Still, many businesses are operating based on facts and statistics and not feelings. Until Harvard released a study on the relationship between work productivity and sleep deprivation, smaller companies, and businesses that lacked budgets for health weren’t doing enough to tackle the problem.

Less productivity:

Professor Vicki Culpin of Hult International Business School studied the link between poor performance and sleep deprivation, with a focus on managers. It suggested that if the problem lies at the top management, the subordinates’ productivity will also get affected.

Similarly, according to the National Sleep Foundation, professionals operated from home for an average of 4.5 hours every week, signifying that they need to work from home after office hours to manage their workload. Managers taking workload home can cause a cumulative effect on the entire process, particularly for businesses that follow tight schedules. This will highly increase the chances of exhaustion and burnout and disturbed sleep due to work worries.

Emotional instability:

Relationships and work performance may compromise if you’re bad-tempered and get upset easily. Laura Giurge of Erasmus University Rotterdam explained that sleep deprivation aggravates the negative behavior. Giurge states “A night of poor sleep can make it harder for someone to stop doing it (displaying negative behavior).” She also brought into consideration that sleep deficiency can trigger low self-regulation and negative attitudes at the workplace. Employees’ emotional instability can make it challenging for the business to perform fully, which leads to financial loss.

Ways to Improve your Sleep

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) suggests that you record your sleep patterns in Interactive Sleep Diary. Filling this diary every day for a week or two will assist you in detecting conditions or patterns that might be keeping you from having enough sleep. The organization also suggests the following guidelines to support you in improving your sleep:

• Keep regular wake and bed timings, including weekends.

• Establish a sleep-conducive setting that is quiet, dark, cool or cozy and comfortable.

• Sleep on a supportive and comfortable mattress and comfy pillows.

• Try to finish eating at least three hours before your fixed bedtime.

• Exercise regularly. Finish your workout not less than a few hours before regular bedtime.

• Avoid caffeine tea, coffee, soft drinks, chocolate prior to bedtime.

• Avoid nicotine tobacco products and cigarettes near your bedtime.

• Avoid alcohol near bedtime. Alcohol actually upsets sleep, causing sleep awakening.

• Leaving your baggage of stress and tension at the office as it will help improve your sleep.

It is really challenging for organizations to directly affect the sleep behaviors of employees as this activity occurs outside the office premises and work hours. But the cost of sleep deprivation is too crucial for companies to ignore, as it has a direct negative impact on safety, performance, accidents, health, and employee engagement.

Companies should also provide all their employees with fatigue/sleep information and education programs.

Review practices and policies around and schedule them to minimize fatigue and sleepiness.

Support employee mindfulness training, stress management, meditation and yoga programs; all have been proved very effective in tackling insomnia.

Review sick leave and vacation policies to minimize work pressure, job burnout, and enhanced disinterest in work.

Offer quiet areas and rooms for exhausted employees to get some sleep during their work hours at the office.

Surveys on employee engagement should include questions that measure employee psychological well-being, stress, and fatigue.

Suggest training programs to higher management to increase awareness related to human sleep, fatigue, and circadian rhythms and also plan actions to neutralize the effects of fatigue.

Productivity and sleep are intertwined directly. You can't imagine enjoying the former without getting a proper amount of uninterrupted sleep or rest regularly. You should set a mindful goal of refining your sleep patterns.

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