Updated at: 28-02-2022 - By: Jane Brody

Americans put in a lot of hours at the office. An additional four hours a week are spent working from home, on top of the standard workday of 9.5 hours, according to the Sleep in America Poll from 2008. 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.

Work schedules and stress can have an effect on sleep, but so can the other way around. 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.

It’s easy to get caught in a vicious cycle of not getting enough sleep, working even harder to make up for it, and then getting even less sleep. Fortunately, people can gain the knowledge they need to break this behavior by learning about the connections between sleep and performance at work. At first, establishing a work-home boundary can be difficult, but it is an essential step toward healthier sleep and more consistent productivity.

What is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is a natural consequence of not getting enough shut-eye each night. An ideal amount of sleep for adults is between seven and nine hours. Up to a third of Americans receive less than seven hours of sleep per night, with as many as 70 percent saying they suffer from chronic sleep deprivation.

Anyone can get sleep deprived, but caregivers and workers who have many jobs or work long shifts are more likely to experience it. Due to the irregularity of working schedules, shift workers may experience sleep deprivation. Untreated anxiety or a sleep problem may be the cause of chronic sleep deprivation in certain persons.

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The signs and symptoms of sleep deprivation differ from person to person. When you wake up in the morning, you probably don’t feel rested. You may fall asleep in a meeting without even realizing it. Sleep deprivation can cause mood swings and a decrease in one’s ability to concentrate.

How Does Poor Sleep Affect Work Performance?

After a bad night’s sleep, you know how difficult it is to get through the day the following morning. A number of challenges might arise at work the following day as a result of a poor night’s sleep, including:

  • Focus and productivity in the workplace are affected.
  • a greater likelihood of illness
  • Inability to make rational decisions and a tendency to act impulsively or take risks
  • You’re more emotional or irritable
  • You’re more emotional or irritable

Anger and/or emotional outbursts have increased.

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. It is not uncommon for individuals who suffer from disorders such as insomnia or shift work sleep disorder to be awake and alert when their bodies demand that they sleep.

Even if you have a flexible work schedule and a high level of job satisfaction, you may still be putting yourself at risk for sleep issues, and you may not even know it.

Productivity Struggles When You’re Self Employed or Work from Home

As many of us have realized due to the pandemic, working from home or setting your own hours can be a blessing! This, however, can also be a curse. Even if you’re moving to a new place with all of your familiar conveniences, you may still find yourself having trouble staying focused at work or finding the right 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

It’s commonly known that sleep deprivation has harmful impacts on the body physically, emotionally, and psychologically. When it comes to grownups, sleep deprivation is a prevalent problem and it can take an unusually long time to get back on track.

Workers of all shifts, not just those who work nights, are suffering from sleep apnea and other sleep-related issues. Day employees, those who work regular hours, are more and more likely to have sleep problems as a result of the stress of their jobs.

As a result of this sleep deprivation, your brain creates a stable but lower level of performance than normal. Changes like this can linger long after you’ve recovered from sleep deprivation, making it difficult to resume your typical activities.

A lack of sleep means that your body and brain are unable to perform at their optimum level during the course of a typical workday. 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. Employers lose an average of $1967 annually per employee due to fatigue-related productivity reductions, according to the research.

Even in the post-COVID era, businesses still have a responsibility to make sure their employees are content and well-rested. How does this happen? 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. The use of a CPAP machine is recommended for employees who suffer from sleep disorders such obstructive sleep apnea, which can be treated with this device.

To better understand the effectiveness of employees, innovative firms are adopting timetables based on their chronotypes. Take this little test to find out what chronotype you are.

How Much Sleep Do You Need to Be Productive?

If you’ve been following these posts for a time, you’re aware that getting enough sleep isn’t the only factor to consider. The amount of sleep you get is vital, but you also need to make sure that the hours you spend in bed are of high quality and not a waste of time.

A good night’s sleep is needed by most people between 7 and 9 hours a night. When it comes to sleep, there is no one-size-fits-all answer; each person’s circadian cycle dictates how much sleep they require each night and when they are most productive. If you know your chronotype, creating a sleep plan that works for you will be much easier.

Getting a good night’s sleep might help you start your day feeling relaxed and rejuvenated. Using my sleep calculator might help you figure out what hour of night is optimal for you.

The Effects of Sleep Loss

Focus, attentiveness and vigilance can be affected by sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation drains mental energy, making it more difficult to focus on things that need concentration, such as long-term projects. Microsleeps, which are brief periods of non-responsiveness lasting from 0.5 to 15 seconds, may be to blame for this deterioration in concentration.

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Additionally, sleep deprivation increases the risk of making omissions and errors due to increased reaction time. This indicates that employees who are overworked are more prone to make a mistake in important situations since they take longer to respond. 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.

People who work when sleep deprived are more likely to become agitated, furious, and stressed. This can lead to people overreacting at the wrong moments in stressful or unfavorable situations. Stress and anger at work can spill over into one’s personal life, making it more difficult to wind down at night. 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

Employers lose billions of dollars each year due to fatigue. Reduced productivity, motivation, and health care expenditures are all blamed on exhaustion, and each employee is predicted to cost $1,967 annually. It costs American businesses $136.4 billion a year to lose productivity due to weariness at work.

Blurring the Line Between Work and Home

Increased connection has made it easier than ever to work from home, blurring the border between work and home. People may forgo their personal needs in order to complete more job responsibilities if there isn’t enough of a separation between work and home. In reality, studies show that the harmful consequences of work-related stress can be reduced by being able to disconnect psychologically from work after clocking out.

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 right. Doctors, on-call professionals, and employees who work from home are frequently accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by email, text, or instant message. Many shift workers, such as factory employees, nurses, pilots, and others, are compelled to work during periods when they would normally be sleeping, which can lead to sleep disorders like shift work disorder.

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the Challenger space shuttle tragedy have all been connected to worker fatigue and sleep deprivation. It’s critical for workers in all sectors to find ways to receive consistent, high-quality sleep in light of the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on productivity.

Chronic tiredness damages social, emotional, and psychological well-being

You’ll feel and act differently if you don’t get enough sleep. Paranoia, hallucinations, mania, and memory loss are all serious side effects of sleep deprivation that could have serious consequences in the workplace.

However, the more subtle impacts of sleep deprivation might be problematic in the workplace. When it comes to the success of businesses, the importance of teamwork and communication cannot be overstated. During Hult’s sleep-related studies, a large number of respondents found the interpersonal parts of their job particularly difficult.

A lack of sleep can have a significant impact on the quality of work-related social relationships, causing frayed nerves, irritability, and a general lack of focus. 84% of those asked said they were more irritable because of lack of sleep, while more than half of those polled said they were more stressed, anxious, and frustrated because of their sleep problems. There was also a lot of talk about withdrawal and a lack of hope for the future, which supports the idea that sleep deprivation is linked to poor mental health.

Lack of sleep has potentially dangerous or disastrous outcomes

Cognitive faculties such as perception, judgment, reaction time, and decision making can be negatively affected by sleep loss.

According to one study, 17 hours of continuous wakefulness, such as a long day at the office, is similar to drinking two glasses of wine in terms of behavioral changes. After 24 hours of sleeplessness, you may behave as if you’ve had four glasses of wine. Surgeons, pilots, and drivers are just few of the professions whose work need a high degree of attention to detail.

The consequences of a sleep-deprived workforce have been shown to be severe. Human error caused the nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island, the Chernobyl accident, the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and the Challenger space shuttle disaster.

Whether it’s boosting productivity in the workplace or preventing large-scale calamities, better sleep is definitely beneficial for business. In the infographic below, you’ll learn more about the effects of sleep deprivation on both you and your company, as well as strategies for encouraging better sleep hygiene.

Improving Job Performance

If your lack of sleep is keeping you from performing at your best at work, it’s time to make some adjustments. Being more productive at work, having quicker reaction times, and having more energy during the day can all be attributed to getting enough sleep. Here are a few pointers to help you prioritize your sleep in order to boost your productivity at work.

  • It’s typical to forego sleep in order to finish work, watch TV, or socialize. Reassess your priorities. Ask yourself if the side effects of sleep loss outweigh the benefits of the activities you justify staying up late. Rethinking your priorities may be necessary if you find yourself frequently prioritizing other things above getting some shut-eye.
  • Talk to Your Boss, Your Union, or Your Company’s Human Resources Department if your work schedule is forcing you to sleep less than you’d want. Research has shown that allowing individuals to separate from the workplace after work and supporting their sleep demands improves focus and productivity during the day.
  • Many people are forced to work shifts that interfere with their desired sleep-wake pattern, so be realistic. Check out these techniques for staying awake during night shifts if you can’t find any room in your work schedule.
  • Your sleep hygiene is all about cultivating excellent habits that will help you get a good night’s shut-eye. Optimize your bedroom atmosphere, set a consistent sleep schedule, fine-tune your nighttime routine, and eliminate any daytime behaviors that are making it difficult to sleep by creating a personalized plan.
  • If you’re experiencing trouble sleeping, go to your doctor or a sleep specialist for advice. 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

Sleep and productivity go hand-in-hand. Getting enough sleep improves your health, well-being, and productivity.

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Sleep aids the body’s physical recovery. Your body’s tissues heal and strengthen themselves while 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.

A good night’s sleep is also good for your mental well-being, your mood, and your cognitive abilities. A good night’s sleep leaves you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed the next day. Memory creation and retention are both facilitated by the establishment and maintenance of neural connections in the brain that occur while you sleep. These methods aid in the development of critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, which are needed for a successful career.

How to Improve Your Sleep

The good news is that there are various things you can do to improve your quality of sleep if it’s causing you stress about your job performance.

Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

Establishing a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule helps your body develop a regular sleep cycle. Regular physical activity, especially in the fresh air, aids in restful sleep. Avoid exercising right before going to bed.

You should also think about what you eat and drink in the hours leading up to night. A stimulant like caffeine or nicotine might keep you awake. Drinking too much alcohol or eating too much late at night can cause sleep disturbances.

Develop Your Bedtime Routine

Avoid using electronic devices, such as televisions, cell phones, and laptops, in the hour leading up to bedtime. These lights can help you stay awake longer by stimulating your brain. Instead, engage in something meditative and soothing. 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:

  • Make the Room Dim: Illumination might make it difficult to sleep. To keep light out of the room, you can use a sleeping mask or blackout curtains.
  • Excessive noise can be reduced with earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. Fans and white noise machines can also be used to mask unpleasant noise.
  • Cool the Room: As you sleep, your body temperature drops. Set your thermostat to a setting where you don’t feel suffocated or frightened when you first wake up. To find out what works best for you, try using a fan or a light blanket.
  • In the event that you can’t fall asleep within 20 minutes of lying down, get out of bed and engage in a calm activity. When you’re ready for a nap, get back to your bed.

Consider Napping During the Day

In the middle of the day, if you’re feeling sluggish, consider taking a quick sleep. Taking a short nap at work can give you the energy boost you need to function at your best.

It will take some time before you see positive changes in your sleep habits. You’ll be able to discover the sleep patterns that are most beneficial to your health and well-being with time and effort. 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

It is critical to have a good night’s sleep in order to maintain a healthy body and mind for a long time, as well as to keep your performance at its peak. A good night’s sleep is essential, but so is a balanced diet and a good mattress and pillow.

You may improve your slumber by following 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. Taking a warm bath, reading a book, or writing in a diary are all good ways to unwind.
  • Do not leave any lights on in the bedroom. Turning off night lights (or employing motion sensors) and covering LEDs are just a few examples of ways to reduce the amount of light coming into the room. Watching television or using a laptop to fall asleep may actually keep you awake and alter your sleep pattern..
  • A white noise machine or sound conditioner may be able to help you sleep better if you live in a noisy area. Another option is to use noise-canceling earbuds or earplugs.
  • The thermostat should be monitored. People in their sixties and older, as well as newborns, may benefit from sleeping in rooms that are a few degrees warmer than that.
  • Consider using a humidifier in the winter months if your nose, throat, or skin becomes dry at night. The quality of your sleep may be harmed if you have to open your mouth to take a breath while you sleep.
  • Do you wake up sneezing, wheezing, or having trouble breathing because of allergies when you’re in bed? 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). Mattress covers that are resistant to dust mites can also help minimize allergens.
  • Your pillows and mattress should be comfortable and in good condition. Consider replacing your pillows every 6-18 months or when they cease supporting your head and neck pleasantly, depending on the material. Some of the greatest pillows are suitable for 6 to 18 months, depending on the material. Mattresses should be replaced every seven to ten years, especially if there is severe sagging or imprints or if you have difficulty getting comfortable or if you wake up with pain.
  • A bed wedge or an adjustable foundation bed may be an option if you have trouble sleeping flat. Edema, acid reflux, and bronchial diseases can all be helped by elevating the chest and/or legs while you sleep.

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