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How Sleep Deprivation Hurts Your Work Performance

We all need sleep. It’s important to get as much rest as possible before starting your day, because when you don’t, it has a major impact on your health, well-being, and job performance. Despite that, many people still don’t get enough sleep that they need, and do noticeably worse at work because of it.

You’d think that something as important as rest would be commonly obtained by everyone, but that’s not exactly the case. For example, a good chunk of people actually suffer from sleep deprivation.

We know that those who get enough sleep are often some of the best workers, but what about those who aren’t getting enough? They tend to not do as well.

Sleep deprivation, put simply, is a lack of sleep, usually due to interruptions in the sleep cycle or unorganized sleep schedules. This can result in various problems, like a lack of focus or decreased energy, which can be especially pertinent in the workforce, as loss in productivity and concentration can potentially lead to job loss or a serious accident resulting in major injury.

The Centers for Disease Control and prevention estimates that around 1 in 3 adults suffer from sleep deprivation, which is around 33% of the population. Now that we have the facts, what can you do about it? Read on to find out just how affected at work you may be, and how to prevent this.

Sleep deprivation is costly, financially and physically

When your sleep schedule changes even slightly, you increase your health risks, as well as your performance. Your job most likely depends on being mentally sound and alert, and when a lack of sleep affects that, you aren’t performing at your best. Cognitive function takes a huge hit when we don’t get sleep.

Even worse, a lot of accidents can occur at your workplace when you’re not all that alert. Some accidents may be minor, but others could potentially be life threatening to you and other co-workers around you. That means that you not only endanger yourself when you don’t get sleep, but everyone else around you.

Stress also has an impact on sleep and can make us toss and turn at night. There are various sources of stress that we can’t always effectively root out, which makes this factor one of the more difficult ones to parse out. With that being said, there are a few known factors that could potentially contribute when we engage in them right before bed.

For starters, a noisy environment can significantly contribute to stress before bed and disrupt sleeping cycles. Being able to sleep in a quiet area is key for proper rest. When we have fulfilled rest at work, we tend to do better.

Taking night shifts also have a serious impact on our sleep schedules. Our circadian rhythm or internal clock relies heavily on visual cues, such as daylight and darkness. When we rob those cues of their primary function, our bodies suffer for it and our schedules are thrown into complete disarray.

What you can do to help your sleep

Sleep deprivation can be scary and even life threatening, but it doesn’t have to be. There are ways you can help treat and prevent it. Acknowledging it first is key, though.

For starters, if night shifts are affecting your overall performance and health, you might not want to take them. Talk to your boss about your sleep being disrupted by these sudden shift changes. Opening a discussion can potentially help improve your schedule.

If you’re having trouble sleeping at home, identify the problems first. A noisy environment is often a source of sleep trouble, so you might want to invest in some soundproofing accessories.

A white noise machine can help block outside noises with ambient sounds, which might go a long way in benefitting your rest. There are also apps designed to perform this function, so check your respective app store.

Investing in earplugs can be good too, as they usually can block out most irritations. Just be aware that it might make you less aware of danger in any given situation.

Try to not use social media before you sleep, as it can set your mind abuzz and cause more stress, which leads to less rest. Eating a healthier diet might help too, along with general exercise.

Most of all, adjust your daily schedule to your job’s the best you can. Waking up 4 hours before work every day isn’t exactly healthy, so try and schedule around that and create a proper bedtime.

Knowing the issue is the first step in treating it. Sleep deprivation can make work much, much worse for you, but it can also be treated. It might not always be easy, but adjusting your schedule to add in more sleep to your life can make all the difference, and you’ll be healthier, more energized, and far more productive in the workforce.


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Mindy Wright
Philadelphia native Mindy is passionate about creating lists about anything and everything. She recently moved to New York. Mindy is a frequent keynote speaker at prestigious conferences and universities in the United States and the United Kingdom. Her favorite Quote: "It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it!” Voracious reader. Writer + Editor + Philly girl.
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