Sleep deprivation: the silent productivity-killer

March 17th is, of course, St. Patrick’s Day, but did you know it’s also World Sleep Day 2023? Studies show that, to be firing on all cylinders at the office, people need to be getting between seven and eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per night on a consistent basis. Yet on any given workday, around a third of staff are battling the effects of sleep deprivation.

Publicado jeudi, mars 16 2023
Sleep deprivation: the silent productivity-killer

A person’s ability to efficiently carry out their functions at work depends on a lot of factors: confidence, ability, a dynamic environment… and getting a good night’s rest. However, the pinstripe-and-braces corporate world rarely makes concessions to the sleep-deprived beyond the ready availability of coffee machines.

People are not robots and productivity cannot be pre-programmed, but managers, and indeed staff themselves, are starting to wake up to the positive impact getting regular sleep has on their effectiveness. If sleep is a superpower, then sleep deprivation is the office worker's Kryptonite. 

Litany of problems
Lack of sleep impairs creativity, reduces the ability to maintain concentration and inhibits memory. The quality of sleep of the average French person has declined over the past half-decade, according to a 2023 study by Adecco which revealed that 77% say they aren’t getting enough sleep, compared to 55% in 2018. 59% of those surveyed admitted to making mistakes at work due to being tired.

And all this desk-side drowsiness has a serious impact on economic productivity too. The US Centers for Disease Control reports 1.2 million lost working days and over $400 billion cost to the American economy each year due to sleep deprivation.  

Sleep-deprived staff cost the US economy $400 billion annually

Although some reasons for poor quality sleep are unrelated to work, many are, either directly (workload for example) or indirectly (mental health). For economic and social reasons, companies have a vested interest in their staff’s rest.

They can both tackle work-related causes of sleep deprivation by promoting a positive atmosphere in the workplace and allowing staff the right to disconnect, as well as emphasizing the benefits of getting a good night’s kip to the overall health and happiness of the people they employ.

Nodding off
One of the many upsides to the pandemic’s remote-work revolution was the ability to take a break-time power nap on the sofa or under the duvet, before emerging re-energized for the next Zoom meeting. Having fallen out of favor in recently years ─ derided as a feature of the Silicon-Valley-inspired adult daycare culture ─ napping stations are making a comeback.

For the corporate siesta culture to truly benefit employer and employee alike, the right amenities need to be in place, which go beyond throwing a few bean-bag beds around the workplace. The stigma of ‘sleeping on the job’ needs to be addressed, as do questions of how much naptime and where and when it takes place is appropriate.     

According to the aforementioned Adecco survey, 69% of workers said they would be in favor of napping stations and the right to grab 40 winks at the workplace, yet not at the expense of finishing the day later to make up for the time they spend with the Sandman.

As slogans go, Sleep Well, Work Well may lack the punch of Work Hard, Play Hard, but for managers dreaming of ways to promote productivity, its power should not be overlooked.