Are your employees getting enough shuteye?

Improve employee performance with sleepFor many of us pressing the snooze button on our alarms has become part of our daily routine and taking your laptop home alongside that extra pile of paperwork has become something of the norm, but do we actually realise the negative impact this is having on our productivity in the workplace?

‘Chronic lack of sleep affects 1 in 3 British workers’

A recent article in The Guardian highlighted the need for both employers and employees to stop and take note. Dennis Cambell argues that the combination of computers, stress and taking work home are all to blame for an increase in the number of sleep deprived workers.

A 2012 study of more than 38,700 UK workers from a variety of industries found that only 38.5% are having the recommended 7-8hrs sleep a night, whilst 45% of UK workers struggle to maintain 5-7hrs a night.

Of the 1 in 3 workers who have a chronic lack of sleep 80% of these individuals would be diagnosed with a sleep disorder by their GP. With shocking stats like these it is no wonder the UK are near the top of the international league table for our lack of sleep.

“British employers should be very worried about these findings as organisations that have employees that sleep better perform better in the marketplace.” Medical Director, Tony Massey.

Supporting Cambells’ argument, US journalist Leo Wildrich highlighted the fact that many US workers are partial to bringing work home with them and not getting enough shuteye. Wildrich acknowledged the common turn of phrase used by many sleep deprived workers… ‘I can run better on no sleep’, but think again!

Yes it is true that a person who sleeps for 4hrs  a night can appear to be equally attentive and alert as someone who slept 7.5hrs first thing in the morning. However the problem lies once that sleep deprived worker loses focus later in the day. Their brain struggles to regain focus and the individual loses concentration and attentiveness. Harvard scientist Clifford Saper states that “the main finding is that the brain of the sleep-deprived individual is working normally sometimes, but intermittently suffers from something akin to power failure”.

Are your employees getting up on the wrong side of the bed?

Cambell also highlights the fact that (according to their study) happy employees get the best sleep. Individuals who said they were ‘very satisfied’ with their job got the best scores in the sleep categories. Ensuring your employees are happy within their role seems to be another contributing factor to improving their health, wellbeing and productivity.

It appears from both articles that there is an increasing number of workers globally who do not know how to switch off their ‘work mode’ and are suffering the effects from sleep deprivation as a result (some without even realising it). Both employers and employees alike need to improve the amount and quality of sleep they are getting in order to maintain efficiency, engagement and innovativeness in the workplace.

If your office is starting to look like a scene from the movie ‘Shaun of the Dead’ try and ensure that you and your colleagues catch fourty winks!


John Sylvester

John is responsible for the motivation division of p&mm ltd and a Director on the board of the IPM. Specialising in developing, implementing and directing many large scale staff motivation, recognition and employee communications programmes.

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