Does sleep deprivation affect your work performance?
Posted on September 27, 2013

How often does sleep deprivation affect your work performance?

To drill down on just how much productivity is lost in the workplace due to the lack of sleep a large pharmaceutical company studied 4,000 workers in the healthcare, transportation and manufacturing industry.

As noted in the Harvard Business Review’s overview on the study, 45% of those surveyed indicated having ongoing sleeping problems, while an almost equal percentage said they were “good sleepers.”

Respondents also claimed they required an average of 7.6 hours of sleep nightly, even though they were only getting 6.4 hours—insomnia affected about 10% of the respondents.

All in all, job performance and productivity were indeed impacted by diminished sleep. The cost to businesses, according to the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, registers higher for workers with insomnia at $3,156 per employee versus $2,500 for those showing less severe sleep issues.

In terms of dollars, the four companies involved in this study, sponsored by Sanofi-Aventiscon pharmaceutical, concluded that their losses due to sleep problems total about $54 million annually; this did not include the costs related to absenteeism; furthermore, those reporting insomnia issues were missing five days a year compared to workers who generally slept well.

Additionally, and according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “Go Ahead, Hit the Snooze Button,”Harvard Medical School claims that one-third of Americans are not functioning at highly productive levels due to lack of sleep, which translates to “billions of dollars in lost productivity.” More precisely, it comes in about $63 billion a year.

Indeed, sleep loss and workplace performance is an ongoing challenge with managers: they are constantly aware of the lack of motivation from employees who are continually “exhausted” from stress and poor sleep.

People who struggle with this issue may find these tips helpful:

Lights and melatonin…

Light messes with our body’s ability to secrete melatonin, which helps regulate our circadian rhythm; consequently, simply try to avoid bright lights at night time—bring on the light in the morning to jump start the sleep/wake mode.

Disconnect and power down…

Start putting the brain into neutral the closer you get to bedtime: read, or work on your hobbies—woodworking?—and even take a shower to relax.

Talk about it…

Have that consult with your doctor. Maybe they can identify a prescription that your taking that can be adjusted. Weight loss? Sleep apnea can be cause by being overweight. Even consider checking in to a sleep lab.

Tags: sleep deprivation, work performance, Harvard Medical, productivity,