Underslept at work – the research is merciless

Joanna Sosnowska 4 minutes read

Both employees and employers tend to undervalue the importance of sleep. Sadly, sleep’s regenerative powers are still little known, so slumber is still regarded as a waste of time. Check out what science has to say about how lack of sleep creates bad bosses and lazy employees.

Lack of sleep causes not only sleepiness but also worse performance. At the end of the day it all can be reduced to numbers. And the evidence of how lack of sleep affects the economy is overwhelming. A research firm Rand estimates that the US economy loses roughly 411 billion dollars and 1.23 million working days every year due to underslept employees.

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Japan follows with a 138 billion dollar loss annually. The list goes on and includes the UK (over 33.7 billion USD a year), Germany (60 billion USD) and Canada (12.4 billion USD) among other countries. Another study, conducted at four US corporations proved that fatigue-related productivity issues cost USD 1967/employee per year. If you think such numbers are too big to ignore, we have  bad news – it’s only getting worse.

Sleep deprivation causes not only measurable economic loss, it also contributes to bad decision making. After a full night of sleep, our prefrontal cortex, responsible for rational thinking, and the amygdala, responsible for primal reactions and very strong emotions, are in check. Not enough shut-eye will impair this balance, causing the link between the two to break. The amygdala takes charge in such situations, causing people to snap at one another and make bad, impulsive and reckless choices.

Now think about all the managers in your company, responsible for important decision-making – how many of them are underslept?

Multiple research proves that not enough shut-eye leads to unethical behavior.

When the amygdala takes control over our reactions, it causes lack of self-control, essential in making ethical decisions. A study shows that people who sleep less than 6 hours a day, are significantly more deviant and more prone to lying than their well-slept colleagues.

Another thing managers should be aware of – lack of sleep seriously impairs charisma. As professor Matthew Walker, the author of “Why We Sleep” states in his book: “Unfortunately for bosses, a sleep-deprived employee will erroneously perceive a well-rested leader as being significantly less inspiring and charismatic than they truly are. One can only imagine the multiplicative consequences to the success of a business if both the leader and the employees are overworked and under-slept.”

But what about employees?

Well, it may not have such severe consequences as for CEO’s and managers, but it sure can cost your company time and money.

You’re probably familiar with the “work-to-rule” action, also known as the “Italian strike.” It’s a situation in which employees do only the things they are required to, only much slower. Unfortunately, that’s basically what happens to even the most dedicated employees when they’re deprived of sleep – they just go through the motions, though much slower. So the moral of this story is that results-wise, sleep-deprived staff is basically the same as one that is on an Italian strike. And that should be a thought to keep every CEO up at night. Lack of sleep creates unmotivated, tired and less creative employees.

They probably aren’t even aware of such dependence, but underslept employees take much longer to complete everyday tasks (even though their will is not at fault). And that means, they may fall into a vicious cycle – work longer, get home later than usual, and deprive themselves of sleep. And the cycle repeats. Lack of sleep creates unmotivated, tired and less creative employees.

What is the solution? “Sleep” would be the obvious answer, but healthy sleep is nowadays hard to come by. Information not only rules, but overloads our minds. And it’s nearly impossible to rest when your mind is still processing events – future or past.

Traditional ways such as sleeping pills are no longer recommended by the doctors, since they don’t support healthy sleep architecture. CBT therapy is the first choice of sleep doctors, but this can be very expensive.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative. Nightly’s technology was developed to prevent trouble sleeping. It actively works to keep your night restful in three ways: it helps you easily fall asleep, limit bad dreams and reduce the likelihood of nighttime awakenings. Nightly monitors your sleep live, recognizes critical moments during your night and reacts with soothing sounds to help you minimize the possibility of a wakeup. It stimulates your sleep to help you keep your rest uninterrupted. And it doesn’t have any side effects.

So, the next time you find yourself wondering, what trick could uplift your team, “prescribe” them some extra Zzz’s. You’ll be amazed by the results.

Reclaim your night and start your day full of energy. Sleep with Nightly tonight