Americans put in a lot of hours at the office. The 2008 Sleep in America Poll indicated that in addition to an average workday of 9.5 hours, Americans are spending more than four additional hours working from home each week. A lack of sleep is a common side effect of increased work demands. According to the results of the same survey, people get an hour and a half less sleep on workdays than on non-workdays.
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Work schedules and stress can impair sleep, but so can the inverse. A lack of sleep can have a negative impact on your work performance, as anyone who has fallen asleep at their desk or during an important meeting can attest to. Lack of sleep might make you lethargic, less creative, and less able to concentrate on crucial tasks.
Sleep deprivation can lead to an arduous cycle of working more to compensate for lost productivity. Fortunately, people can gain the knowledge they need to break this behavior by learning about the connections between sleep and performance at work. It’s difficult to draw a line between work and home life at first, but it’s an essential step on the path to healthier sleep and more reliable work performance.
What is Sleep Deprivation?
In a nutshell, sleep deprivation is caused by a lack of sleep. Adults should obtain between seven and nine hours of sleep each night, according to experts. 35 percent of Americans sleep less than seven hours a night, and as many as 70 percent report feeling sleep deprived on a daily basis.
Even while sleep deprivation can happen to anybody, carers and workers who have several jobs or work long shifts are more likely to suffer from it. Sleep deprivation may also be a problem for shift workers, as their schedules don’t match their normal sleep-wake cycles. Sleep disorders or untreated anxiety may be to blame for some people’s sleep deprivation.
There is a wide range of symptoms associated with sleep deprivation in different people. When you first get up in the morning, it’s likely that you don’t feel rested. Despite your best efforts, you may fall asleep during a meeting without realizing it. Sleep deprivation can cause mood and cognitive changes.
How Does Poor Sleep Affect Work Performance?
If you’ve ever had to work after a night of terrible sleep, then you know how miserable it is to get through the next day. A lack of excellent sleep at night can lead to a multitude of concerns the next day at work, including:
- Workplace productivity suffers as a result.
- A greater likelihood of being ill as a result of this.
- An inability to control one’s impulses and a tendency to take risks.
- You’re more empathetic or impatient than before.
- Absenteeism, rudeness, vandalism, and cheating on work tasks are all at an increased risk.
Sleep deprivation has been linked to a variety of negative outcomes, including decreased productivity at work. Trying to sleep when you’re concerned and stressed out might make your workdays more difficult and stressful, and vice versa. After a bad night of sleep, the cycle repeats again, resulting in another unpleasant workday. People in all walks of life are feeling the strain, not just those who have traditional 9-to-5 jobs.
People who work night shifts, such as the graveyard shift, are more likely to suffer from sleep disorders and poor quality of sleep. Working against your body’s natural circadian cycle can be tough, and it can be physically taxing. People with sleep disorders such as insomnia or shift work sleep disorder are more likely to suffer from these ailments because they are unable to sleep when their bodies demand it.
Many people, even those who enjoy their jobs, are unwittingly putting themselves at risk for sleep issues because of their flexible schedules and high job satisfaction.
Productivity Struggles When You’re Self Employed or Work from Home
As many of us have realized as a result of the pandemic, being able to choose your own working hours and locations can be a blessing. This, however, can also be a curse. While having the conveniences of home can ease the transition, it can also make it more difficult to maintain concentration and a healthy work-life balance.
Having a distinct work area and not working on the couch or in bed will help you stay focused. Working from the comfort of your own bed can make it more difficult to fall asleep at night, as the bed is no longer associated with rest and relaxation. You shouldn’t use your bed for anything other than sleeping or having sex.
How Sleep Loss Affects Your Body
Sleep deprivation has been shown to have detrimental physical, emotional, and psychological repercussions on the human body. As a result, many adults suffer from sleep deprivation, and getting your sleep cycle back on track might take months or years.
People who don’t work evenings are also at risk of having sleep patterns that are inconsistent or disrupted. There has been an increase in the number of day employees who have difficulty sleeping because of their work-related stress.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your brain creates a diminished version of your typical performance to compensate for the lack of sleep. Changes like this can linger long after you’ve recovered from sleep deprivation, making it difficult to resume your typical activities.
If you’re sleep-deprived, your body and mind will keep you going, but you’re not at your peak performance. You can’t do your best work if you’re tired all the time; this is bad for both you and your employer.
How Sleep Deprivation Affects the Employer
Employees who aren’t getting enough sleep are a huge financial burden on their employers. Research published by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found people who didn’t get enough rest were less productive, had a lower level of quality work, and were more likely to pose a safety concern. The study also found that firms lose $1967 annually per employee due to fatigue-related productivity reductions.
In our post-COVID world, companies must ensure that their employees are happy and well-rested. How are they able to pull this off? When you put a high priority on your mental health, sleep, and overall well-being
Allowing flexible work hours, searching for sources of employee stress and finding ways to solve them, and making sleep treatment more accessible to those who need it are all ways employers may be proactive in catering to their employees’ sleep requirements. Worker’s with sleep disorders, such as those treated by the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, will find this particularly beneficial.
To better understand the effectiveness of employees, innovative firms are adopting timetables based on their chronotypes. This short questionnaire can help you determine your chronotype.
How Much Sleep Do You Need to Be Productive?
Sleep wellness isn’t simply about how many hours you get each night if you’ve been reading these articles. It’s critical to get enough sleep, but you also need to make sure that the time you spend sleeping is spent in a restful manner rather than one marked by disturbed or insufficient sleep.
A good night’s sleep is needed by most people between 7 and 9 hours a night. The proper amount of sleep for one person may be insufficient for another—your individual circadian rhythm determines how much sleep you require each night as well as your peak productivity periods during the day. In addition, knowing your chronotype can help you better plan your sleeping pattern.
Getting a good night’s sleep at the right time each day will help you feel relaxed and energized. I recommend utilizing my sleep calculator if you’re unsure about your ideal bedtime.
The Effects of Sleep Loss
Sleep deprivation can make it more difficult to keep one’s attention, focus, and vigilance. Long jobs and those that need concentration are more difficult to do when one is tired and unable to stay awake. Microsleeps, which are brief periods of non-responsiveness lasting from 0.5 to 15 seconds, may be to blame for this deterioration in concentration.
In part because of slower reaction times, those who are sleep deprived are more likely to make mistakes and omissions. As a result, employees who are already feeling the effects of exhaustion are more prone to react slowly in emergency situations, increasing the risk of an error. Impaired reaction times can mean the difference between taking and not taking a crucial phone call or failing to answer swiftly in a conversation. Slow reaction times can make the difference between life and death in other professions, such as doctors, first responders, and truck drivers.
Under-sleeping can make people more irritable, irritated, and prone to stress, making them less productive. This can lead to people overreacting at the wrong times in stressful situations. Even if you’re able to sleep at work, the tension and anger you experience there can follow you home, making it more difficult to get to sleep. A long-term lack of sleep can lead to more serious mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression, which can make it more difficult to be effective at work.
The Economic Impact of Sleep Deprivation
It is estimated that fatigue costs employers billions of dollars a year in lost productivity. Reduced productivity, motivation, and health care expenditures are all blamed on exhaustion, and each employee is predicted to cost $1,967 annually. An estimated $136.4 billion is lost annually by U.S. businesses as a result of employee weariness.
Blurring the Line Between Work and Home
Working from home has never been easier because to improved connectivity, which often makes it difficult to tell the difference between being at work and being at home. People may compromise personal needs in order to complete more job duties if there is not enough of a separation between work and home life. The ability to psychologically disconnect from work after clocking out has been shown to help alleviate the detrimental impacts of work-related stress.
A lot of jobs blur the line between work and home life, either because of the tremendous expectations placed on employees or because they are so unique in their own way. Email, SMS, and instant messaging are frequently used by doctors, on-call professionals, and remote workers. Work schedules for many different types of people often compel them to work during times when people would normally be sleeping, which can lead to sleep disorders like shift work disorder.
Several high-profile industrial incidents, including the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Exxon Valdez oil spill and Challenger space shuttle tragedy, have been connected to sleep deprivation. People in all professions should seek out strategies for obtaining regular, high-quality sleep in light of the dangers that sleep deprivation poses to their work output.
Chronic tiredness damages social, emotional, and psychological well-being
You’ll feel and act differently if you don’t get enough sleep. Paranoia, hallucinations, psychosis, and memory loss are just a few of the more serious psychological symptoms of sleep deprivation.
Sleep deprivation can have far-reaching consequences in the workplace, even if the impacts are more modest. The importance of teamwork and communication in the workplace cannot be overstated. In Hult’s sleep-related studies, a large proportion of participants found that the interpersonal components of their position were particularly difficult when they were exhausted.
Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on interpersonal connections in the workplace, including irritability, moodiness, and a lack of focus. Overwhelmingly, 84% of those polled said that lack of sleep made them more irritable, and more than half said they felt more stressed, anxious, and frustrated as a result. Sleep deprivation is linked to a lack of optimism about the future, as well as emotions of isolation and depression.
Lack of sleep has potentially dangerous or disastrous outcomes
Sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on your cognitive abilities, such as perception, judgment, response time, and decision making, in addition to the emotional impact.
In fact, prolonged wakefulness, such as a long day at the office, has been proven to produce behavioral alterations comparable to two glasses of wine. If you’re awake for 24 hours straight, you’re legally allowed to behave as if you’ve consumed four glasses of wine. Surgeons, pilots, and drivers are just few of the professions whose work need a high degree of attention to detail.
Unfortunately, it has come to light that a sleep-deprived workforce can have severe consequences. Human error induced by tiredness led to the meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor, the Chernobyl nuclear explosion, the Exxon Valdez oil leak, and the Challenger space shuttle catastrophe.
Better sleep is certainly better for business, whether it’s increasing productivity at work or preventing large-scale catastrophes. In the infographic below, you can learn more about how sleep deprivation affects you and your company, as well as how you can encourage better sleep habits.
Improving Job Performance
Make some adjustments if sleep deprivation is keeping you from performing at your best at work. Improved performance at work and reduced reaction times are just some of the benefits of regular, high-quality sleep. The following are a few recommendations to get you started on the path to better productivity at work by prioritizing sleep.
- In order to finish a project, watch TV, or interact with friends, many people forego sleep. Reevaluate your priorities. Consider the reasons you provide for staying up late, and then ask yourself if the consequences of sleep deprivation are truly worth it. In order to get a better night’s sleep, you may need to change your priorities and establish a clearer line between work and personal time.
- Allow for a Little More Flexibility: Talk to your manager, your labor union, or your company’s human resources department if your work schedule is keeping you awake at night. After-hours detachment and support for employees’ consistent sleep demands have been shown to improve attention and productivity throughout the workday, according to recent studies.
- Keep It Real: The optimum sleep-wake cycle may not be possible for everyone, and many people are forced to work shifts that contradict with this. Check out these techniques for staying awake during night shifts if you can’t find any room in your work schedule.
- In order to improve your sleep hygiene, you must cultivate a healthy sleep routine. Optimize your bedroom atmosphere, set a consistent sleep schedule, fine-tune your nighttime routine, and eliminate any daytime behaviors that make it difficult to sleep.
- Consult Your Physician: Medics and sleep specialists have a lot of expertise working with clients who are experiencing trouble sleeping. Work-related fatigue can be managed with the support of a doctor who can guide you through the process of developing a sleep improvement strategy tailored to your specific needs.
Benefits of Getting Enough Sleep
In order to perform at a high level at work, you need to get enough sleep. Your health, happiness, and productivity all increase when you get enough sleep.
A good night’s sleep helps the body heal itself by allowing it to rest and recuperate. Repair and growth occur in your body’s tissues when you sleep. During the night, your heart beats slower and your blood pressure fluctuates, which is good for your heart. Because your body produces immune-boosting hormones while you sleep, obtaining enough sleep helps keep you healthy and speed up your recovery time if you do get sick.
Mental health, emotions, and brain function are all improved when you get enough sleep. A good night’s sleep leaves you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed the next day. Sleep is a key time for your brain to establish and maintain memory pathways that are necessary for the formation and retention of new memories. These methods aid in the development of critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, both of which are necessary for achieving professional success.
How to Improve Your Sleep
If you’re worried about how well you’re doing at work because of lack of sleep, there are a few things you can do to remedy the situation.
Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
Consistent sleep patterns can be established by waking and going to bed at the same time each day. Regular physical activity, especially in the fresh air, aids in restful sleep. Avoid working out right before going to bed.
Also, take into account what you eat and drink in the hours leading up to bed. Stimulants like nicotine and caffeine can help you stay awake at night. Heavy meals and alcohol might interrupt your sleep during the night, so avoid these at all costs.
Develop Your Bedtime Routine
Avoid using electronic devices, such as televisions, cell phones, and laptops, in the hour leading up to bedtime. These lights have the ability to increase alertness and prolong sleep. Instead, engage in a meditative activity that will allow you to decompress. Warm bath, meditation, reading, or relaxing music are all options.
Create a Good Sleep Environment
To ensure a good night’s sleep, follow these guidelines:
- Light is a major deterrent to getting a good night’s sleep. To keep light out of the room, you can use a sleeping mask or blackout curtains.
- Noise-canceling headphones or earplugs can be used to block out unwanted noise. A fan or a white noise machine can also be used to mute undesirable noises.
- As you drift off to sleep, the temperature of your bedroom will naturally drop. Find a temperature that doesn’t cause you to feel overly hot or cold when you wake up in the morning.” If using a fan or light blankets makes you more comfortable, go for it.
- Only use your bed for sleeping and having sex. If you still can’t get to sleep after 20 minutes, get up and do something quiet. When you’re ready for a nap, get back to your bed.
Consider Napping During the Day
Consider a power sleep if you’re feeling sluggish during the workday. Taking a little nap throughout the workday, no more than ten to twenty minutes, can provide you the extra energy you need to be productive.
It will take some time before you see positive changes in your sleep habits. It takes time and practice to discover the ideal sleep patterns for your body and overall health. You’ll feel better and be more productive at work if you get more sleep, especially if it’s of higher quality.
Steps for Sleeping Better
One of the most important things you can do for your long-term health and your ability to perform at a high level is to obtain a good night’s sleep. We can’t stress enough how critical it is to maintain healthy habits and select the best mattress and pillow for your needs.
To get a better night’s sleep, follow these tips for proper sleep hygiene.
- An hour before going to sleep, begin to prepare your body and mind for sleep. If you’re hungry, dim the lights, turn off the internet and the television, and have a small snack. These include taking a hot bath, reading, or writing in a journal as ways to unwind.
- Turn off all the lights in your room. Window shades, motion-activated night lights, and LEDs should all be covered or turned off. Cell phones and other electrical devices should also be taken out of the room. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, it’s not uncommon to use electronic devices like a TV or laptop to help you stay awake.
- For people who find it difficult to sleep in noisy environments, a white noise machine or sound conditioner can help. Another option is to use noise-blocking headphones or earplugs.
Keep an eye on the temperature in the house. According to research, the ideal room temperature for sleeping is in the mid-sixties, with the exception of the elderly and infants, who prefer somewhat warmer circumstances.
- Consider using a humidifier in the winter months if your nose, throat, or skin becomes dry while you sleep. You may not get a good night’s sleep if you have to open your mouth to breathe.
- Do you sneeze, gasp for air, or suffer from other symptoms of allergies while you sleep? If this is the case, you should wash your bedding properly at least once a week and consider replacing pillows older than a year, as well as fully cleaning your mattress (surface vacuuming for most types). Allergens can be reduced with the use of dust mite-proof mattress covers.
- Keep your pillows and mattresses in good shape. It’s a good idea to replace pillows every six to 18 months or when they no longer support your head and neck comfortably based on the material. Mattresses should be replaced every seven to ten years, especially if there is significant sagging or imprints, difficulty getting comfortable, or soreness when you wake up.
- Consider a bed wedge or adjustable base bed if you have difficulties sleeping in a flat position. Sleeping with the chest and/or legs elevated can help with a variety of health issues, including bronchial illnesses, circulatory issues, acid reflux, and edema.