I’m sleepy…and I’m not the only one. Our new Horizons Workforce Consulting study of more than 4,000 working adults shows that 60% of people don’t get enough sleep most nights to awaken refreshed. A substantial number — 41% — indicate that they get sleepy at work.
I absolutely qualify as a “good sleeper;” I hail from a long line of good sleepers and have produced two good sleepers of my own. But I have sleepy days, too. When the kids were small, I had sleepy years.
The thing about being sleepy is that everything becomes miserable; worries hover like gauzy ghouls; I’m short- tempered with my kids; I feel guilty about being short tempered; and I snack on junk food in hopes that it will revive me. And of course, concentration goes out the window.
THE IMPORTANCE OF REPLACING THOSE MISSING ZZZZZZS
And that’s the good news. Because despite my internal state, when I get sleepy in front of my computer in my home office, I’m not a danger to anyone — at least not in the literal sense. Not so for doctors, nurses, factory workers, truck drivers, and airline pilots. When they get sleepy at work, we have a much bigger problem. There’s no doubt that sleepiness negatively impacts safety. And there’s evidence of critical issues for those industries.
But there are also costs for those who employ knowledge workers. Poor sleepers in our study were three times more likely than good sleepers to indicate feeling burned out; they were six times more likely to say they often feel unable to meet work requirements. Worse, poor sleepers’ self-reported quality of work and productivity were markedly lower than good sleepers.
As proof…I took a break from writing this blog for a scheduled conference call. During that call I accidentally hung up twice and mistakenly thought I was on mute while grinding coffee. So things really can go wrong, even for those of us who are mostly protected from injuring others.
WAKING UP OUR WORKFORCES
Equally of note, the cost of sleep deprivation is cumulative. And the sleep-work connection isn’t a one-way street. Nearly a third of our respondents said that work-related worries or interruptions don’t just result in of lack of sleep — but also cause it.
So, here’s what I want to see:
- I want to see employers set boundaries on communication expectations.
- I want employers to say “if we need you during non-work hours we will call you on the phone. Otherwise, we do not expect you to be checking email.”
- I want people to know they’re not prohibited from working late at night to manage life in a fluid way if that’s their preference. But I want them to know the expectation — the default setting — is that they don’t have to.
This will not only allow people to take their minds off of work and wind down for sleep, but it will also reduce the blue light (aka the glow of our electronic devices) that can keep us awake.
For those of us at a keyboard, it’s a cure to a nagging problem.
For others behind the wheel or a scalpel, it may be a matter of life and death.
Are sleep-deprived employees sacking your bottom line? Get the full Horizons Workforce Consulting study showing the challenge of sleeplessness and how it affects company performance.