October 08, 2020

How to Deal with Sleep Deprivation at Work

Sleep Deprivation and Work

Sleep deprivation can adversely affect workplace performance and many times can be caused by work itself. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 65% of Americans experience sleep problems.

More and more, people are extending their working hours and stretching their mental capacity, which plays a large role in chronic sleep deprivation.

How Sleep Deprivation Affects Work Performance

Sleep deprivation affects many areas of your life, including how you perform at work. Some of the effects on work performance can be disastrous, as was found by a sleep study by Hult International Business School. Sleepiness played a large roll the following disasters:

• Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown
• Challenger Space Shuttle accident
• Chernobyl nuclear accident
• Exxon Valdez oil spill

In terms of work performance, being tired has the same effect as being drunk. Studies have shown that being awake 17 hours is equivalent to how you’d feel after two alcoholic drinks and being awake 24 hours is the same as four drinks. Not getting enough sleep can affect:

• Speech
• Motor function
• Levels of aggression
• Impulsiveness
• Memory
• Decision-making
• Problem-solving
• Multi-tasking
• Emotional intelligence

The higher position you hold, the less sleep you’re likely to get. A National Sleep Foundation survey reported that 40% of respondents were impatient with others at work, 27% found it hard to concentrate, and 20% had lower productivity than expected. Irritation, stress, and health issues are more likely to occur while focus, innovation, and cooperation skills decrease.

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How Do I Deal with Sleep Deprivation at Work?

Fortunately, there are things you can do to help deal with sleep deprivation in general, and how you can mitigate its effects at work. Here are some ways you can create a healthy environment at work to avoid sleep deprivation:

• Make sure you have a hard stop time to leave work for the day
• Don’t send or respond to email and other work communications after dedicated working hours
Eating healthy snacks throughout the day
• Taking breaks during work hours to exercise and give your brain a rest
• If possible, create a flexible working schedule – choosing to work at the time when you’re at your best

Here are some things you can do outside of your work-related adjustments to improve your sleeping habits and avoid sleep deprivation at work:

• Maintain a regular sleep schedule
• Avoid sleeping with the television on
• Establish a relaxing bedtime routine, like reading a book, taking a warm bath, or listening to soothing music
• Avoid eating food or drinking alcohol before bed
• Establish a regular exercise routine
• Avoid caffeine, such as coffee, tea, or chocolate before bedtime
• Create a sleep environment that’s dark, quiet, and cool
Avoid nicotine found in cigarettes and other tobacco products

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Learn More About Sleep Deprivation at Work with Baptist Health

If sleep deprivation is affecting your work performance, find a Baptist Health Occupational Medicine near you.

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