Welcome to our sleep-deprived nation. Our tendency to forego sleep has effects on workplace safety, employee health, and worker productivity. Sleep deprivation is said to cost our nation $63 billion a year in lost productivity at work. And this problem is not getting any better. When you compare our sleep habits today to those of people 50 years ago, we sleep, on average, 60-90 minutes less a night.
Why Is Sleep Deprivation on the Rise
All types of factors contribute to our lack of sleep. Oftentimes, it is not just one of the multiple factors, but several that contribute. If productivity at work is important to you, and you don’t sleep as long or as well as you would like, check to see if any of these factors may be hindering your rest.
You Choose to Sleep Less
Are your sleep patterns voluntary? Meaning are you conscious of purposefully restricting your sleep? Are you going out or playing video games instead of sleeping? Do you drink cola, coffee, or energy drinks far too late in the day?
Your Work Commitments
Certain types of work environments contribute to sleep deprivation. Specifically, shift workers and people who frequently travel by air. Both of these situations can disrupt natural sleep patterns.
Perhaps you are a new parent? Good luck with sleeping more. Perhaps you live in a loud neighborhood or your partner snores. The immediate environment can effect quantity and quality of sleep.
The National Sleep Foundation defines Insomnia as “difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and is often considered chronic if it happens at least three nights per week for three months or longer.”
Adults who report experiencing symptoms of insomnia:
- Sixty-eight percent ages 18 to 29
- Fifty-nine percent ages 30 to 64
- Forty-four percent over the age of 65
If you experience chronic insomnia, it is important to see your doctor to rule out potential physical or psychological conditions one may exhibit.
Sleep Can Boost Productivity at Work
Here are some of the ways that getting enough rest has been shown to boost productivity at work. When you do not suffer from sleep deprivation, you will:
Recover from Distractions Quicker
It is more difficult to refocus after a work task interruption when you are sleep-deprived versus when you are fully rested.
Make Better Decisions
Sleep improves (by about four percent) one’s ability to have greater accuracy when making split-second decisions.
Sleep is important for your brain’s ability to remember. Sleep consolidates memories so they can be recalled in the future.
Make Fewer Mistakes
Proper sleep helps you make fewer mistakes. Forget to attach the document to your email? Forget your tea in the break room a second time today? Typo? Many common mistakes result from sleep deprivation, during which your brain works at a slower pace.
Part of burnout prevention incorporates lifestyle changes. High on the list of healthy lifestyle choices is to get plenty of sleep. Exhaustion can fuel burnout by creating irrational and hopeless thoughts. It also decreases your ability to keep perspective during stressful situations.
Companies Are Catching On
Promoting healthy sleep habits is a concept that many workplaces should look into, if not for health and happiness, than for no other reason than to improve productivity at work.
More and more companies are offering wellness programs, encouraging vacations, and introducing the best invention of all time: Nap rooms. But as with everything in life, the first step to helping our sleep-deprived nation is awareness.
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