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Sleep Deprivation and Work Performance


sleep deprivation and employee work performance

The CDC found that approximately 24-48% of Americans, depending on the state they reside in, sleep less than the recommended amount of seven hours per night. In fact, 70 million Americans have some kind of sleeping disorder and 30% of those include short-term insomnia. 

This isn’t too much of a surprise considering how many hours Americans are expected to work. One study demonstrated the connection between long work hours and sleep, showing that American workers got 1.5 less hours of sleep during work days. 

The irony, of course, is that employees are expected to work long hours to be more productive, but if long work hours equate to less sleep, then they won’t have as much energy to be as active or engaged in their work. 

Below we’ll look at how sleep deprivation affects work performance and how you can encourage healthy sleep habits at work. 

Sleep deprivation and sleep loss effects

Although The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep every night, about a third of Americans sleep less than 6 hours a night. This is a real problem for workers because sleep is necessary for our ability to think clearly and learn new things.

The necessary rest that sleep provides for the body helps regulate our immune system, cardiovascular system, and cognitive functions. Sleep deprivation will make it more difficult to stay focused and attentive. On top of that, people are more irritable, prone to making mistakes, and vulnerable to stress when sleep deprived, which gets in the way of pretty much everything that people do throughout their days, especially their work. 

Sleep’s effect on work

The cyclical relationship between stress and sleep is an unfortunate one, but it’s important to understand if you want to help employees become more rested and consequently more ready to work. When workers are stressed, the amount of time they sleep and the quality of sleep decreases. Decreased sleep will further augment that stress, which then further hurts the quality of sleep further, creating a vicious sleep-stress cycle that doesn’t benefit anyone, especially not your business.

You want your employees to be well-rested and ready to take on the tasks of the day, which means they need to be less stressed and find healthy coping mechanisms to manage their workload. 

Blurred line of work and home’s effect on sleep

Especially as we move into the remote setting, it’s worthwhile to examine how the blurred lines of work and home can affect sleep. It’s not quite black and white, but there are a few things that remote work has done to reshape our work-life dynamic.

In one sense, remote and hybrid work has made work-life balance easier to manage for employees. By removing long commutes, employees theoretically have more time to sleep, have breakfast, and get into their morning routines. Working from home also allows employees to unplug from work during breaks and spend time with their families and pets during downtime. 

At the same time, however, sleep experts recommend that the place we sleep in should be a place of comfort and relaxation. For employees working in their bedrooms, the blurred line of work and home can have negative effects on their sleep by not giving them a real opportunity to unplug and recharge, which is why it’s so important to have separate rooms dedicated to work and sleep respectively. 

Economic impact of sleep loss and poorly rested employees

The RAND Corporation found that the US loses what is the equivalent of 1.2 million work days annually to sleep. Their study also found that small but significant changes to sleep patterns can have huge impacts on the economy. An additional hour of sleep, an increase from six to seven hours, could add more than $225 billion to the US economy. 

Additionally, sleep deprivation is linked to illness, disease, and other health complications that are costly on the American economy in the long run. The study found that individuals who get less than six hours of sleep per night will have 13% higher mortality risk than someone sleeping the recommended 7-9 hours. 

Improving sleep = improved job performance

The bottom line for employers is that improved sleep = improved job performance. It also improves general and work satisfaction, engagement, retention rates, and more. Sleep is connected to so much of how our bodies operate and how we feel on a day-to-day basis, so ensuring good quality of sleep from your employees will help to improve so many facets of your employee’s life. 

Employers can encourage better sleeping habits through a wellbeing sleep platform. Wellbeing benefits empower employees by giving them the tools and knowledge they need to practice mindfulness, better sleep habits, and healthy living. 

Healthier and happier employees will sleep for longer, reduce their stress levels, become more engaged in their work, and contribute to a vibrant and healthy workplace culture.

Grokker can help stimulate sleep 

Grokker understands the importance of sleep for businesses and their employees, which is why we’ve created several comprehensive sleep programs. Your employees can learn under the guidance of internationally recognized wellbeing and sleep experts and gain the confidence they need to transform their sleep and wellbeing habits.

Talk to an expert to see how Grokker can help employees take control of their sleep, wellbeing, and lives today. 



Caring For Remote Employees

Many organizations continue to work in remote and hybrid models as the pandemic winds down, but many employees, when given the option to return to work, would actually prefer to continue working remotely. Our new guide, Taking Care of Remote Employees: The Key To Business Success Beyond the Pandemic, gives you actionable steps to ensure that your employees feel supported no matter where they are working. 

Download your guide