You can’t have one without the other…
It’s not uncommon for the working day to drag from time to time, but feeling tired at work is a sure fire way to make your day feel endless. A lot of us go through a morning lull or an afternoon slump when at the office, but if you spend your workdays counting down the seconds until bedtime, you’re probably experiencing some serious sleep deprivation.
It should come as no surprise to learn that sleep deprivation is detrimental to your workplace productivity. However, the connection goes deeper than that. We’re going to take a closer look at the damage a bad night’s sleep can do to your job performance.
Long hours at work and few hours of sleep: a dangerous combination
In the UK, employees work an average of 37 hours per week, while the average UK adult only sleeps for 6 hours and 19 minutes per night. This means that, generally speaking, we are spending more hours at work through the week than we are spending in bed asleep.
It also means that we are getting far less than the 8 hours of sleep per night recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. In fact, recent reports reveal that the UK is the most sleep-deprived country in the world.
Sleep deprivation leads to lower job satisfaction
Sleep, or a lack of it, can have a direct impact on how you feel about your job. According to a recent State of America’s Sleep study, 57% of employed adults classified themselves as poor sleepers, as opposed to 29% who considered themselves excellent sleepers.
When compared to the study’s excellent sleepers, poor sleepers were 2.3 times as likely not to enjoy their work, 2.4 times as likely to feel undervalued at work and 2.2 times as likely to dislike their colleagues. What’s more, poor sleepers were also 50% more likely to feel under pressure at work.
And it isn’t just the USA where this connection is clear. Studies from the British Medical Association have identified clear connections between fatigue, sleep deprivation and lower job satisfaction.
Studies reveal the damage caused by a lack of sleep
We’re often led to believe that trading sleep for a bit of extra work is a sign of productivity. Jack Dorsey, Twitter founder and Square CEO, only sleeps for four to six hours a night, while household name and businesswoman Martha Stewart runs on less than four hours sleep per night. Even Donald Trump said: “How does someone that’s sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that’s sleeping three or four?”
But despite what Trump says, the evidence shows that skimping on sleep isn’t actually the smart move. Fully recharging the batteries through adequate sleep – typically in the region of 8 to 9 hours – boosts energy levels and increases productivity, while depriving yourself of sleep can negatively impact your performance at work.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine found this, with studies showing that as little as an hour or two of sleep loss contributed to a 19% drop in productivity at work.
This trend is also present in the UK, where productivity has fallen at its fastest rate in five years. According to the Office of National Statistics, productivity (which is measures by output per hour) decreased by 0.5 per cent between April and June 2019. What’s more, experts have suggested that this lull in productivity is at least partially due to the UK’s nationwide sleep deprivation.
If you want to improve your work performance, start with your sleep schedule. Despite the narrative that little sleep creates successful entrepreneurs, high quality sleep is absolutely vital to maintaining a positive, energetic and productive attitude in the workplace.