How Sleep Deprivation Affects Work Performance
A lot of people don’t realize how serious of a problem sleep deprivation can be—especially where work performance is concerned. In fact, we live in a culture that almost glamorizes sleeplessness. People are expected to sleep less and work more than ever—and unfortunately, this eventually takes a toll on both the body and the mind.
Employers don’t usually take this into account in the day-to-day operations of their businesses—but this may very well be at their own peril. Sleep-deprived workers are not only less productive, they are also more likely to experience workplace-related accidents.
This can cost the company a lot of money, but it can also result in injuries.
According to a study that was published in the National Post in April of 2017, one less hour of sleep can reduce household income by up to 11%! The researchers found that less sleep equated to a higher level of fatigue, and that this fatigue could certainly ‘undermine economic performance.’
As it turns out, people are still not paying attention to the fact that sleep, along with a healthy diet and plenty of exercise, is a cornerstone to good health, wellness, and longevity. But it is also tied closely to almost everything else in life. It affects your risk for diseases, your work performance, your mood… even your relationships!
And sleep deprivation can most definitely make things worse at work, if it isn’t paid attention to in a timely manner.
The sad fact of the matter is that sleep is often just overlooked—especially in economic models, and in how it affects not just the workplace and the lives of the workers, but also in how it effects the bottom line.
Why Is Sleep Deprivation a Problem? What Does It Really Cause?
Sleep deprivation can cause a number of problems. It has been shown to reduce performance, memory, alertness, and even cognitive abilities.
In fact, statistics from The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration seem to indicate that drowsy drivers might be responsible for as many as 100,000 car crashes each year, which result in 71,000 injuries and as many as 1,550 fatalities!
But that’s not all. Sleep deprivation can also make you more susceptible to illness. If you start to lose out on too much sleep, you may find yourself at an increased risk for developing conditions like high blood pressure, heart attack, heart failure, a stroke, or even psychiatric problems.
Of course, sleep loss can also lead to preventable accidents. (Note: Did you know that the engineers in the Chernobyl accident were said to have been working for 13 hours straight before the incident occurred? It is possible that sleep loss even played a role in that horrific accident!)
What Can Be Done To Help Curb Employee Sleep Deprivation?
Employee sleep deprivation is certainly a problem. But it isn’t a problem that can’t be helped.
Managers and business owners can begin this process by being more proactive and involved in the lives of their workers.
Some ways that workers could be helped in this regard are through…
- Education about the importance of sleep and a regular, routine sleeping schedule
- Counseling to help with sleep disorders like insomnia, snoring, sleep apnea, etc.
- Workday naps or breaks for quiet, meditative rest
- Everyday conversation. Check on people. Do they look tired? Are they complaining about being tired? If so, encourage them to clock out and take a twenty minute power nap.
Loading up on caffeine might be a tempting quick-fix—but be careful! This can sometimes cause more harm than it’s worth, because it can impair sleep later on in the day, and keep your workers from being able to fall asleep at their scheduled bedtime.
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