How sleep helps productivity


18th Oct 2021 Wellbeing

It is well established that a lack of sleep has many adverse effects on our lives.

Experts suggest that losing just an hour or two or sleep for a few nights massively impairs your ability to function optimally. They say that losing a couple of hours asleep for a few nights is the equivalent to functioning without an entire night or even two nights of sleep.

Many different solutions have been suggested over the years, including improving our bedding and even switching to specific pillows such as goose down pillows or even bamboo pillows. Although no specific approach is guaranteed to work for everyone, many have different merits.

The science behind the sleep

Your productivity takes a massive drop when feeling tired or fatigued. Not only do you become more irritable or struggle to think clearly you can actually lose cognitive function.

When your cognitive abilities are lowered you are less alert and as a result your brain is slow to respond to anything. This can drastically affect job performance. This becomes even more critical if you are working in a field that requires operating heavy machinery or having maximum concentration for health and safety reasons.

For people working in a management role, not getting enough sleep can affect your ability to form rational decisions and make you more likely to make mistakes.

Staying focused on longer tasks also becomes more of a challenge, as the brain enters a period of micro sleep, which are 1-15 second episodes of non-responsiveness that causes lapses in concentration.

Many people have also become acutely aware of the comfortability of their workspaces and the spaces in which they unwind and relax, with ergonomic chairs and seating options increasing in their sales over the last few years. The likes of what is known as a ‘gaming bean bag chair’ for example, have seen more interest than ever, having been designed for people sitting in one place for long periods of time.

This is all indicative of populations becoming ever more aware about how they sit, work, relax and spend their time when sedentary, but how does this all link to sleep?

Sleep studies

Studies have shown that a lack of sleep leads to more accidents and injuries at work. The numbers suggest that 70% of employees that don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be involved in a workplace accident than their colleagues who aren’t suffering from sleep deprivation.

To prove this point, a study was conducted on medical interns. Interns on a traditional schedule with extended work hours (that didn’t give them enough time to properly rest between shifts) made 36% more serious medical errors than interns on a schedule that allowed for more sleep.

A separate study discovered that not getting enough sleep can impact the brain negatively to a similar degree as being intoxicated with alcohol. A good amount of sleep on the other hand has been shown to improve problem-solving skills and enhance the memory performance of adults and children.

Without giving yourself enough sleep, the processes of the body work below the level required. The neurons in your brain become overworked and this is what leads to the impaired thinking and slow reaction times.

By not getting enough sleep people can also feel emotionally drained, impacting their morale to work, thus further impeding their productivity. In order to properly regulate and control your emotions, your brain needs to have the energy to operate properly.

The importance of getting enough sleep cannot be overstated. If your job requires maximum concentration and attention then it is critical that you give your mind and body the time to rest and recuperate.

If your brain doesn’t get the required amount of sleep the effects of that could be disastrous, not only for yourself. The cycle of not getting enough sleep can be hugely detrimental.

Once you start to lose out on sleep your work performance will decrease creating more stress which results in you being able to sleep even less. The irritability that comes from a lack of sleep cannot only affect your relationships with colleagues but also with friends and family at home.

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