Sleeplessness in the Workplace

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Striving to maintain a work-life balance is something many people struggle with on a daily basis. With sleep being stressed more than ever as one of the most important factors to overall health, productivity, and life, it is the most beneficial resource for an effective workplace.

Technically we are supposed to be engaged in more sleep than any other activity in a 24-hour day, given that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night. But with the demands at work, home, and personal life straining a healthy balance, sleep rarely makes an appearance in the work-life balance discussion.

Researchers in 2014 conducted a study that examined these issues and found that people “borrow” time from their sleep in order to maintain the demands of work and home. The higher the demands, the more likely that sleep will suffer.

Lack of sleep and the work-life balance can seep its way into a person’s office life. When you are more tired and therefore crankier, it reduces the social skills and relationships you have developed at work. It can lead to distrust, lack of teamwork, and a diminishment in cooperation amongst teams and their members. The irony is that people borrow from sleep to meet their high demands but need sleep in order to function properly, otherwise you risk weakening or losing relationships and connections.

Studies have shown that there are specific things that are severely affected in the workplace due to a lack of sleep. People tend to be more short-tempered and are quick to judge and react, making situations more volatile than need be. They also have a lower ability to manage their emotions and dealing with disruptions throughout their workday.

On another emotional level, we tend to miss cues we would otherwise receive and therefore have a harder time correctly gauging the emotions of others. By not being in tune to the environment and people around you can cause disruptions amongst co-workers and teammates. Sleeplessness also wreaks havoc on us, compromising our own self-perception and ability to function. A very poor side effect of sleep deprivation is an understanding to how fatigue can really affect us in the workplace; with little to no sleep, people usually engage in riskier behaviors and risky decision making.

As we mentioned before, how you interact amongst your team is greatly affected by a lack of sleep.  A loss of sleep impacts team decision-making, accuracy, and problem solving. (Research has shown that employees working in teams suffer less sleep-related issues than individuals but only in some circumstances). Sleeplessness and its negative consequences can become pervasive throughout an organization or company, making undesirable and unethical behavior more likely.

There is also a correlation between stress and sleep. Stress interferes with sleep and a lack of sleep causes people to be more vulnerable to stress, having a hard time dealing with it when it occurs. This in turn can interfere with the quality of work and job performance and can reduce job satisfaction.

Getting enough sleep increases job satisfaction and reduces job-related stress. You’ll be able to handle your work demands better and feel more in control. Management and leadership who don’t understand how sleeplessness can cause negative impacts in the workplace is a detriment to themselves and the organization or company they support. They too feel the diminishing effects of sleep loss and in order for any transformation to take place, it must come from them.

While it may seem impossible at times, try to create a work-life balance that includes sleep without taking away from any of these areas. Your boss will thank us later.

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