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How To Deal With Sleep Deprivation At Work

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Lack Of Sleep Impairs Performance

How To Deal With Sleep Deprivation

Lets say that a person who needs eight hours of sleep per night only gets six. This two-hour sleep loss can have a major impact including:

  • Reduced alertness
  • Errors of omission making a mistake by forgetting to do something
  • Errors of commission making a mistake by doing something, but choosing the wrong option
  • Microsleep brief periods of involuntary sleeping that range from a few seconds to a few minutes in duration.

Caffeine Is Your Friend But Be Strategic

The first thing many of us reach for when we’re feeling tired is a caffeinated drink.

Caffeine is “everyone’s favourite psychoactive drug” and it really does help us to be more alert and focused.

Siobhan Banks, co-director of the Behaviour-Brain-Body Research Centre, says a lack of sleep can dull our senses, making it harder for us to focus on tasks. She says caffeine can help with this.

“Where we know that caffeine is really good is with keeping you alert with things like driving, for example,” Professor Banks says.

She says while caffeine can help you be safer while driving on the way home, it can have unwanted effects as well.

When we don’t get enough sleep our body gets an inflammatory response our heart rate goes up, our blood pressure goes up, glucose is released into the blood.

This is our body working to keep us going until we can sleep again, but it makes us feel more stressed, on edge and a bit sick. Caffeine also raises our heart rate and can make us feel even more on edge, so it’s best not to drink a coffee if you’re already nervous, for example.

And if you’re sensitive to caffeine, it can stop you from sleeping and therefore compound any sleep loss.

“It’s just being aware of using caffeine in a more strategic way,” Professor Banks says.

  • Verdict: Caffeine can help you focus for short periods of time to help you get through the day, but be careful about your tolerance and what else you consume with it.

How To Stay Sharp When You’re Sleep Deprived

After dinner with the kids in bed, you slip into your home office for a few hours of uninterrupted work time. Finally, when the clock strikes midnight, you drop into bed, utterly exhausted. Instead of counting sheep, you count deals, revenue, sales leads in the pipeline, and all the things left undone. You toss and turn. At 5 a.m., your alarm alerts you that it’s time to do it all over again. And so it goes…

Prolonged wakefulness is reaching epidemic proportion, but I didn’t need to tell you that. You live it each day. In fact, Gallup’s recent study reported that we’re getting an average of 6.8 hours of sleep, slightly below the recommended 7 hours of sleep per night. Between work and parenting, over half of those surveyed under the age of 50 are the most sleep deprived with 46 percent snagging less than 6 hours of sleep each night.

It comes as no surprise to anyone — the number of hours we’re working is increasing. Our leisure time is much more active, too. Seldom do we slouch in our Barco lounger, like Dad, after a long day at work. We’re hiking, biking, and running. Our “down time” is anything but low energy.

Implications of Sleep Deprivation Ambitious entrepreneurs tolerate long days of work physically. It’s the mental aspect, however, that really kicks our performance. Sleep deprivation unquestionably impacts cognitive performance — one of the most important aspects of building a successful enterprise.

Recommended Reading: Do Betta Fish Sleep A Lot

Dealing With Sleep Disorders At Work

07th February 2020

Recent research carried out by the NHS revealed that the number of tests carried out to diagnose sleep disorders in people across England has doubled in the past decade. It is estimated that 1.5 million people in the UK suffer from sleep apnoea, a serious sleep disorder that can cause temporary stops in breathing. These statistics show that sleep disorders are becoming more common in people across the UK. But why is this an increasing concern for businesses?

According to the BBC, sleep-deprived workers are costing the UK economy £40bn a year. This financial loss comes as a result of tired employees performing less productively, being prone to making more mistakes and in some cases, being unable to make it into work. This shows that the effect sleep disorders have on workers is an occupational health issue that needs addressing within the workplace. Continue reading this post to find out how to recognise the signs of sleep disorders, and be in a stronger position to be able to offer the right support to your employees.

How To Cope: Tips For Combating Sleep Deprivation

How To Deal With Sleep Deprivation

Quality sleep is the only way to effectively battle deprivation and chronic sleep deficits. Good sleeping habits are essential. The room should be quiet and dark as well as cool. Good quality and comfortable mattresses are essential. Invest in comfy pillows and bedding. Good sleep habits are critical. Heres what you should and should not do to deal with sleep deprivation.

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Are There Different Types Of Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation and sleep insufficiency may be categorized in different ways depending on a persons circumstances.

  • Acute sleep deprivation refers to a short period, usually a few days or less, when a person has a significant reduction in their sleep time.
  • Chronic sleep deprivation, also known as insufficient sleep syndrome, is defined by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine as curtailed sleep that persists for three months or longer.
  • Chronic sleep deficiency or insufficient sleep can describe ongoing sleep deprivation as well as poor sleep that occurs because of sleep fragmentation or other disruptions.

Common Conditions That Can Affect Sleep

11%-23% of deployed troops have suffered mild TBI

Veterans have higher rates of tinnitus than the general public due to the noise levels they encounter while in the service, including gunfire, machinery, aircraft, and much more Tinnitus is defined as the perception of ringing, hissing, or other sounds in the ears or head when no external sound is present.

65.5% of veterans reported having pain in the last three months

36%-72% of substance abusers have insomnia

13.8% of veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan were diagnosed with PTSD

One study shows that 27%-30% of veterans have a triple combination of PTSD, anxiety, and depression

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How To Prevent And Treat Sleep Deprivation

If you have ongoing or worsening problems with insufficient sleep or daytime sleepiness, working with your doctor is a good first step to getting relief. Your doctor can assess your situation and recommend treatment that best suits your needs.

In most cases, a focus on sleep hygiene your sleep environment and daily habits is a central component of preventing and treating sleep deprivation. The following sections outline some key sleep hygiene improvements for people who get insufficient sleep.

How Do Sleep Disorders Affect Workplace Performance

How to deal with sleep deprivation

In one of our earlier posts, we discussed the links between sleep and sickness absence, and how within the UK sleep deprivation is a growing phenomenon. We found research reporting that the average person living in the UK gets between only 5.78 and 6.83 hours of sleep per night.

For the average person, having a bad nights sleep will take a toll on their concentration levels and how productively theyre able to perform at work. But what about for those consistently getting considerably less than the recommended 8 hours of sleep per night due to sleep disorders?

Sleep disorders are conditions that affect a persons sleep, which ultimately negatively affect a persons life in various ways. For employers, there are two issues that need to be addressed. The first of which is employee happiness and morale consistently having a lack of sleep can leave a person feeling irritable and generally low, which over time can take a toll on a persons mental wellbeing. On the other hand, being tired at work can have a serious impact on a persons ability to safely carry out their job. This is particularly the case if their job role involves driving or operating machinery where tiredness can increase the likelihood of accidents. In fact, fatigue has been found to play in role in 20% of accidents on major roads.

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Enforce An Early Bedtime Routine

As tempted as you may be to squeeze in all the chores in those precious hours between your kids bedtime and your own, dont. Go to sleep as early as possible, even if its a time that seems comically early, says Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. Even though there are a million things you could be doing, just go to bed. You may be destined for wake-ups later in the night, but getting a few continuous hours of sleep earlier is especially crucial when it comes to feeling refreshed come morning.

A consistent sleep routinegoing to bed and waking up at the same time within an hour or so every dayis key to feeling rested. We almost always have a wake-up alarm to tell us its time to get out of bed, but I think its also important to have a bedtime alarm. We get caught up in whatever were doing, and before we know it, its way too late, says Dr. Paruthi. She suggests setting an alarm 15 to 30 minutes before you intend to hit the sheets so you have time to wind down. Then keep your phone and tablet out of sight because the blue light they emit can stimulate your brain, making nodding off trickier.

Strategies For Sleeping Better

There are a variety of ways to cope with the sleep problems caused by rotating work shifts and ongoing night work. The approach that will help you the most depends on the following three factors:

  • Your individual needs
  • The requirements of your job
  • Your environment at home

Some methods will apply to your situation more than others. For example, working rotating shifts in a hospital may require a different approach than working the night shift on an assembly line. Also, some people respond to shift work better than others. In general, older people find it harder to work nights or to rotate shifts. Your personality may also suit you better for one kind of shift. Some people are “evening types.” They like to go to bed late and sleep late in the morning. They feel most alert and energetic in the evening. They may adjust to the night shift better than “morning types.” Morning types wake up early and work best in the morning. They get tired and go to bed early in the evening.

From the options below, find what will work best for you in your situation. The most important thing you can do at first is to make sleep a high priority in your life.

Also Check: Service Connected Sleep Apnea Proof

Productivity & Sleep Deprivation

Whatever the cause, theres no question that sleep deprivation has a significant negative impact on work productivity. Arecent study by RAND Corporation uncovered that the U.S. experiences the highest economic loss due to insufficient sleep compared to other countries up to $411 billion a year and the equivalent of about 1.23 million workdays.

A lack of sleep affects our mental functions and ability to perform on the job in many ways:

Give Yourself A Chance To Reset Sleep

7 Ways to Deal with Sleep Deprivation

If youre feeling the effects of sleep deprivation from stress, then give yourself a break as soon as you can. Better yet, spend a weekend in the outdoors.

A 2017 study revealed that spending a weekend camping in the outdoors can help reset your body clock. It brings it 2.5 hours closer to your ideal wake-sleep cycle.

Other studies also showed how the outdoors, especially nature, can lower your stress levels.

If you dont have time to pack your bags, you can pitch a tent in your backyard. Just make sure to turn off as many artificial or electric lights as possible.

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Put The Oxygen Mask On Yourself First

The more you can schedule your life and, in particular, exercise the better, says McGuire. And this is certainly a tactic thats important with a newborn in the house. Its like on an airplane: You need to place the oxygen mask on yourself first before you can put one on your kid. Exercise reduces stress, helps you sleep better, and get the endorphins pumping. You can hold your baby and do squats if you want, he says. Its not as much about the squats as making sure you exercise and clear the mind. Did your hear that, maggot!?

Wikimedia Commons

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.

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Sleep Deprivation Impacts Your Physical Health

The physical effects of tiredness can be significant. A general feeling of lethargy is a standard symptom of poor sleep, while a number of participants in Hults research also reported experiencing other adverse physical symptoms, such as heartburn and palpitations.

This supports numerous established studies showing a connection between the quality of sleep and quality of physical health. A decreased immune function can make you more susceptible to common illnesses, which in turn can keep you away from the office and potentially damage your career. According to one study, people who averaged less than seven hours of sleep were nearly three times more likely to develop a cold.

More troubling however are the potential long-term effects of sleep deprivation. The risk of serious medical conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, have all been linked to chronic lack of sleep.

What would happen if you didnt sleep? Watch the video:

Sleep Deprivation At Work The Impact On Inclusive Cultures


When seeking to progress your diversity, inclusion and wellbeing agenda, its vital that you look at how sleep deprivation at work can impact on your inclusive culture.

Most of us would agree that were less considerate and inclusive towards those around us when sleep deprived. Findings from research conducted by leading sleep psychologists and Hult International Business School only further support the business and wellbeing cases for encouraging your teams to switch off.

Out of the 1,000 employees from all managerial and professional levels surveyed, Hults Wake-up Call study found more behaviours impacting on inclusive cultures presented themselves in sleep deprived workers. Among these findings, 84% of respondents said that poor sleep makes them more irritable, suggesting sleep loss makes us more likely to snap and potentially make micro-aggressions. 56% of respondents said that sleep deprivation makes it harder for them to have difficult conversations with colleagues. And over half of respondents reported that a poor nights sleep worsens their stress, anxiety and frustration, whilst increasing the likelihood of them to feel withdrawn or lack optimism.

When senior managers were surveyed, Hult discovered that almost half found it more difficult to be mindful of their impact on others whilst leading on little sleep. Fair to say then that sleep gets in the way of truly inclusive leadership, surely?

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Can You Squeeze In A Powernap That Might Help

You can go for as many walks, drink as much caffeine and eat all the sugar in the world nothing will cure your tiredness other than sleep.

“A brief power nap can combat the effects of sleepiness,” Dr Micic says.

“But the key is to keep the naps short, no longer than 10 minutes. Because after longer naps of half an hour or an hour we can actually start to feel worse.”

Professor Banks says naps can be great for people like parents of newborns who need to grab sleep when they can, but they can be a bit of a trap for others.

“Anyone who is having trouble getting off to sleep at night, I wouldn’t recommend them having a nap,” she says.

The longer we don’t sleep, the stronger the need for sleep becomes, and this can be helpful for someone who has a lot of trouble getting to sleep at night.

“Keep that sleep pressure so it helps you get off to sleep at night,” Professor Banks says.

  • Verdict: If you don’t have a sleep problem and just need to catch up a bit, a nap is great. Keep them short and don’t nap if you have trouble getting to sleep at night.

When Its Ok To Sleep At Work

Whether youâre seriously sleep-deprived or have little to no sleep debt , intentional workday snoozing is more than OK it’s highly recommended and has multiple benefits, as youâll see later. These workday naps also help to pay down sleep debt.)

But what is sleep debt? It refers to the amount of sleep you’ve owed your body in the past 14 days relative to your sleep need. Unlike the generalized recommendation of “eight hours of sleep” per night, your sleep need is unique and genetically determined â the way your eye color and height are. Your need likely sits between 7.5 and 9 hours, although a not insignificant 13% of the population needs over 9 hours to feel and function at their best, or as close to it as possible.

Keen on learning your exact sleep need to determine how much sleep debt youâre carrying? The RISE app can help you with that. It uses sleep-science-based models and the past 365 nights of sleep data tracked by your phone to learn your unique sleep biology and calculate your sleep need in hours and minutes.

When you carry more than five hours of sleep debt, your sleep deprivation starts to have serious consequences. Think cognitive impairment, a weakened immune system, and greater anxiety levels, to name a few. Suffice to say, a midday siesta in the office wonât be enough to maximize your performance.

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