Sometimes, we choose to compromise sleep to finish a task for work, to study, to party, or to take care of a sick child, stated Candice Galex of INC, an American business magazine. However, as you grow older, you might find it hard to regain lost sleep, causing you to suffer from insomnia or sleep disruptions the next day.
According to the American Sleep Association, which is founded by physicians and scientists in 2002, adults are recommended to get between six and ten hours of interrupted sleep each night to ensure health. The rule of thumb is to try to get at least the minimum amount of sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, you will experience a drop in productivity and make you cranky.
Why Do Employees Stay Up All Night?
CPAP.com, a sleep apnea online store, surveyed a total of 2,667 people, with a focus on a sample of 987 individuals who stayed awake all night at least once. According to the study, 22% of the surveyed respondents reported staying up all night due to work, cited by the HR Daily Advisor Content Team, a website dedicated to providing tips on human resources.
When asked why the employees stayed up late, they answered: Meeting a deadline (52%), working in multiple shifts (48%), solving a problem or strategizing (26%), covering for a co-worker (19%), and finishing a project early (17%). Sadly, 62% of respondents who stayed up all night went to work the following day. The study also revealed that 67% of individuals chose to stay up late whereas 59% felt obligated to.
83% of those who pulled all-nighters reported feeling less focused the following day. An additional 81% stated that they were less alert while 75% were less productive. Only 8% said pulling all-nighters was always worth it whereas 43% said they were never worth the work required to do. When asked to mention the effects of staying up late had on them, the respondents cited exhaustion the next day (79%), inability to focus (64%), moodiness (50%), exhaustion for several days (49%), and decreased reaction time (49%).
The individuals also mentioned forgetfulness (46%), stress and anxiety (46%), unhealthy food cravings (34%), heightened emotions (30%), and intoxicated feeling (28%). Further, only 11% felt physically well after pulling all-nighters and 12% reported feeling mentally well. A mere 14% said they are emotionally well.
What Happens When I Don’t Get Enough Sleep?
1. A Dip In Mood and Morale
You may not be as patient as you used to or not as well-equipped to handle stressful situations when you don’t get enough sleep. Try to get as much sleep as you can if you think you feel sadder or depressed when you are exhausted.
2. Poor Concentration
It is more difficult to focus on your work when you have less sleep, as your body will struggle to stay awake, forcing it to enter “survival mode.” If you are drained, this is not the right time to be working on a big project (or studying) because you might end up giving a less impressive performance than usual.
3. Short-Term Memory Loss
Have you experienced forgetting to accomplish simple tasks such as replying to an urgent email? Have you ever had difficulty remembering the password to an email account you rarely use? These situations are a product of poor sleep.
Matthew Walker, an associated professor of psychology and neuroscience and a UC Berkeley sleep researcher, tested the memory of young adults and older adults to assess their difference in memory. The test revealed that the quality of deep sleep in adults was 75% lower than their younger peers, meaning that their memory was 55% worse. No one wants to forget an important business meeting or getting to the office late and be penalized for it, so it is important to get the minimum amount of sleep to prevent memory loss.
How to Promote Good Sleeping Habits?
1. Instill Good Sleep Habits
Don’t chastise yourself to your desk, reminded Healthy Sleep, a resource from the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School and WGBH Educational Foundation. Take breaks and do physical activities before, during, or after work, which will make you more active and alert. Try consuming caffeine in moderation with a hearty breakfast or lunch to enhance alertness.
2. Assess Yourself and Your Goals
Poor sleep may make people reassess their goals and priorities on whether advancing at work is worth the risks of sleep deprivation. If you work in an environment that requires employees to stay up and rewards them for those hours, consider negotiating a schedule with your superior to ensure proper work-life balance.
If you and your colleagues are bargaining with your superior, be sure to emphasize the correlation between sleep and productivity. Assert that you are taking your responsibilities seriously. Consider requesting your manager to allow you and your co-workers to work flexible hours to ensure productivity.
3. Avoid Blurring the Lines Between Work and Off Hours
Some workplaces allow employees to work anytime and anywhere, but it does not mean employers should let them be chained to their desks all the time, stated Aetna, a provider of health insurance and other plans. If you are an employer, you can provide your workers access to health coaching and employee assistance programs (EAP) to support work-life balance. These initiatives will help your employees become healthier, both physically and mentally.
Be a good example to your employees. For example, Christopher M. Barnes and his colleague Gretchen Spreitzer, Ph.D.— who wrote for research-based magazine and digital platform MIT Sloan Management Revie — said, “If leaders send messages late in the evening, employees will feel pressure to watch their email late into the night.” To address this issue, an executive continued to write emails at night and used the scheduling feature to ensure that they are sent during office hours.
4. Promote Health and Wellness
Lifestyle factors that are detrimental to our health can jeopardize sleep. Hence, smoking cessation programs, on-site gyms, and wellness programs that encourage and reward employees to get active can improve their quality of sleep and life, as well as reduce negative lifestyle factors. Dr. Stella George, Senior Medical Director at Aetna International, explained that individuals who are suffering from chronic insomnia should see their GP or a family doctor because it can be a sign of a sleep problem such as sleep apnea.
Lack of sleep will make us more susceptible to diseases and short-term memory loss. Poor sleep can also impair our performance at work. Those working in high-stress environments may consider negotiating to their superior for a schedule that encourages work-life balance. As much as possible, people should not compromise their sleep to get ahead or work on a project.