How Does a Lack of Sleep Affect Work Performance?
Have you ever spent some of your waking hours wondering whether you got enough sleep the night before?
If you’re like most adults, you don’t get enough sleep. But how much sleep is enough?
Sleep requirements vary from person to person, but most healthy adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep to function at their best. Because of their active lifestyles, children and teens need even more.
For the most part, older people need at least seven hours of sleep—despite the long-held notion that sleep needs decrease with age.
Unfortunately, most adults aren’t getting those seven hours. According to the the Hult International Business School, professionals average about six and a half hours per night. We know that a good amount of sleep can help increase mental health and increase quality of life, but do those missing 30 minutes actually make a difference?
How does a lack of sleep actually effect you at work?
Studies show that a good night’s sleep improves learning.
Whether you’re learning math, playing the piano, perfecting your golf swing, or driving a car, sleep helps enhance your problem-solving skills.
While this may not pose a problem for the weekend or holidays, those are crucial skills while working.
If you can manage it, a short nap may greatly improve your work output. An article in the Harvard Men’s Health Watch reported that a brief nap can boost learning, memory, and creative problem solving.
A nap can help in the short term, but improvement comes with those seven hours at night.
When your body is fast asleep, your breathing and pulse are slow and steady. Meanwhile, your brain is hard at work processing the events throughout the day. It sorts and files information, makes connections, and solves problems.
A 2010 Harvard study suggested that dreaming may reactivate and reorganize recently learned material, which would help improve memory and boost performance.
You’re likely already aware that mood is affected by sleep. This is why you can be a bit cranky or on edge after a bad night’s sleep. Your co-workers might steer clear on those mornings and you might be a bit less patient with clients.
But, as is the case with most health issues, the long-term risks can be far worse.
Sleep deprivation and insomnia are linked to depression and anxiety, according to the National Sleep Foundation. This also occurs with people who awake at night or suffer sleep-related issues. In a study, those with sleep apnea were five time more likely to suffer clinical depression.
It’s probably not surprising to hear that when you sleep less, the body suffers too.
According to Live Science, you risk of disease increases greatly with a lack of slumber. Long-term sleep deprivation increases chance of diabetes and heart disease, while making you hungrier. This because sleep is involved in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels.
Viruses are also a potential problem with less sleep.
The National Health Service boasts the power of sleep to improve immunity. Some more rest may actually keep you healthy for work, rather than calling out sick.
Do you have any other questions about sleep, health or the effect on work? Schedule an appointment with your local Passport Health clinic by calling or fill out a contact form and speak to a representative.
Written for Passport Health by Jerry Olsen. He has over 15 years of combined experience as a writer and editor in Salt Lake City. Jerry’s writing topics range from health care, travel, life science to medical technology and technical writing.