For so long we’ve correlated hard work to long hours and late nights. We celebrated the tireless labourers for their work ethic and commitment to their craft. However, as the cliché goes, we should learn to “work smarter, not harder.” One such way to work smarter is to prioritize sleep. Sounds counterintuitive? On the contrary, good sleep hygiene offers many benefits to work performance.
Sleep Deprivation & Workplace Performance
Lack of sleep can negatively impact how you perform at work. When you’re feeling tired, you may find it’s much more difficult to stay focused on long tasks at work. As a result, jobs that require your concentration can take much longer than necessary. In addition, your work may not be as thorough as it should be. This can lead to an overall drop in quality.
You’re also more likely to make more errors and omissions when you’re sleepy. This is because lack of sleep can lead to slower reaction times. Sleep-deprived employees take more time to react to situations in the workplace. The results can range from a simple mistake to a dangerous safety hazard, depending on the profession.
Sleep deprivation also tends to make people more irritable, angry and stressed out. Amplified emotions can cloud an employee’s judgement when performing tasks on the job. As a result, they may be inefficient in getting their work done or a potential safety liability for the employer. In addition, an employee’s anger and irritability can make them a poor communicators. This is especially important when working on a team and relying on coworkers to get the job done.
How Sleep Can Improve Your Performance
Most adults need around seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Employers can benefit in many ways from having their employees come to work well-rested.
For starters, good sleep hygiene helps cognitive function. Getting the right amount of sleep can boost your memory. In fact, when you go to sleep after learning something new, your brain is able to better store and process that information. The ability to process and remember information are obvious requirements for most jobs.
In addition, proper sleep can actually make you more creative. Research from Harvard University and Boston College has shown that the emotional components of your memory can strengthen while you’re asleep, which may help spur the creative process. Furthermore, the vivid dreams you experience during REM sleep can help spark your creativity. Oftentimes, creativity is an overlooked skill set in the workplace. Creativity can help you find new solutions to problems as well as foster a more collaborative work environment.
Several studies have shown the link between sleep quality and athletic performance. This same boost in athletic performance can translate to workplace performance and safety if the job requires manual labour. A study out of Stanford showed that men’s basketball players who extended their sleep to 10 hours ran faster and shot better. A separate study showed swimmers had a quicker reaction time off the diving block when they got more sleep. Conversely, other studies have shown lack of sleep can lead to quicker exhaustion, slower decision making and a higher risk for injury. Many blue-collar jobs require a certain level of physical fitness and ability. Getting the right amount of sleep will help ensure these hands-on workers are able to complete their tasks safely and effectively.
Sleep is also key to maintaining your mental health. Research has shown that your brain activity during sleep has a huge impact on your mental and emotional health. Depression, seasonal affective disorder, and anxiety are all associated with sleep problems. In fact, about 75% of depressed people show symptoms of insomnia. In order to create a healthy environment in the workplace, employers should prioritize their employees’ mental health and overall well-being. As a result, company morale will be lifted, and company culture will be strengthened.
Author Bio: Drew Miller is Director of Marketing for Sit ‘n Sleep, one of the largest mattress retailers in Southern California. Drew works closely with ad agency partners and oversees the marketing strategy for Sit ‘n Sleep. The son of CEO/Owner Larry Miller, Drew marks the third generation of Millers to dedicate their lives to helping people sleep better. He started as a Sleep Consultant at Sit ’n Sleep West Hollywood, where he learned about customer needs’ when it comes to sleep.