Do you feel like you’re struggling at work? Maybe it’s hard to make the decisions that are part of your job, or you find yourself slacking off when you really need to be getting something done. If you’re not getting at least 7 hours of sleep each night (and you may need quite a bit more than that!), getting more sleep may be the solution you need to get ahead to achieve your career goals.
Productivity Losses Due to Lack of Sleep
It doesn’t seem like sleep would be a very big deal at work. After all, so many of us struggle with insomnia or procrastinate going to bed that being tired seems like it’s just a part of life. However, a study out of Harvard says that the average employee loses 11.3 days of productivity every year, just because they aren’t sleeping well. That may not sound like much, but it comes to $2,280 per worker, or $63.2 billion for the nation each year. Maybe sleep is more important than we think!
People who aren’t sleeping well cost themselves and their companies because sleep loss leads to the following conditions and behaviors.
People who are on their mobile phones after 9 PM for work-related reasons are less engaged the next day. The lack of engagement comes from multiple causes. These people are unable to fully disengage from work, which means they can’t replenish their energy; they are constantly multitasking, which is exhausting for the brain; and they are tired because they aren’t going to bed until the work is done. Compound that with the fact that the blue light from their phones can interrupt their sleep patterns, and you have a recipe for workers who just can’t get as interested in their jobs as they need to in order to get the work done.
People, including and especially supervisors, are more likely to be cranky, difficult, and downright abusive when they haven’t had enough sleep. This may not seem like it would have a direct impact on productivity, but it does. People who work for managers like this are unhappy, stressed, and dissatisfied with their jobs. This means they aren’t as engaged. They may even look to sabotage the boss when they think they can get away with it.
People who aren’t well-rested get exhausted 11% earlier than those who sleep well. That’s not a lot, but in an 8 hour work day, it means that tired people will be totally drained 45 minutes earlier than everyone else. That time adds up. When you compound it by being chronically sleep-deprived, you may get tired even earlier.
Lower Attention Span
Most work-related tasks aren’t done instantly, and some require us to sustain attention over quite a long period of time (a day or two or more). This becomes difficult, if not impossible, when we are sleep-deprived. Without sleep, the brain struggles to focus on anything. You may fully intend to get that report finished. However, your brain just can’t sustain that kind of attention when you’re tired. Thus, tasks take longer and employees work slower than they otherwise would.
Cyber-loafing is an official name for all of that time you spend messing around on the internet when you should be doing something else. When you cyber-loaf at work, you aren’t as productive as you might be otherwise. Not surprisingly, cyber-loafing goes up when sleep goes down. It’s harder to control impulses when we’re tired, so we follow the urge to click on that article, then that one and that one and so on.
Performance on Par with a Drunk
You wouldn’t go to work drunk, right? But when you go to work sleep-deprived, that’s basically what you’re doing. After you’ve been awake 18 hours, you perform as if your blood alcohol level was 0.05%, which is legally impaired in many places. Chronic sleep deprivation has similar effects. Thus, you may perform like a drunk even if you slept decently last night because you aren’t sleeping that well every night. Obviously, drunk people would get less done and be less able to focus than sober ones. Being sleep-deprived produces a similar performance.
What You Can Do
You’re not losing productivity intentionally, you just can’t sleep. You don’t have to live this way, though. Hacking your sleep so you can perform better isn’t just good for your company, it will also help you get ahead in your career, too. Here are some ideas for getting the sleep you need.
- Find out how much sleep you need. Start by getting 7 hours a night. If you’re still tired, add 15 minutes until you feel well-rested, wake up a little before your alarm, and can sustain your focus all day long. Then maintain that same volume of sleep day in, day out.
- Set a routine. You will sleep better if you fall asleep at the same time every day…even weekends. Sure, you may not hit this exactly, but the more you can make your sleep routine, the more likely you are to get enough rest.
- Take a nap. Naps may not be something you can rely on every day, but try to get one on days where your sleep was bad or you feel tired. Find a quiet place and spend 20-30 minutes of your lunch break snoozing. You’ll feel more awake and engaged for the rest of the day.
- Set yourself up for success. Make sure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Get things as dark and as quiet as you can. Consider earplugs and an eye mask if there aren’t other ways to achieve these things. Get a mattress that’s comfortable and provides the support you need, and cool your room down. All of these should help you sleep better.
Once you’re getting plenty of good-quality sleep, you’ll notice it everywhere. You’ll feel better and perform better at work, but you’ll also get more done at home. You’ll more energy for doing the things you love, and you’ll be more patient and understanding with the people closest to you. In fact, getting good rest could change your entire life.