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Sleep deprivation and its impact on your team's work performance

By Angela Knox | Feb 16, 2021


Is your team underperforming? If the answer is yes, have you considered whether they are getting enough sleep? In this blog, we will explain exactly why sleep deprivation can have serious consequences on work productivity, before concluding with some quick-fire tips for upping productivity through sleep. Read on!

Impact on physical health

Let's start with possibly the most serious effect which lack of sleep can have. 

If your team members are not getting enough sleep, they could experience lethargy throughout the day, which for obvious reasons is not conducive to productivity. 

But there are also a number of more serious physical symptoms which can accompany sleep deprivation; from palpitations to heartburn, a reduced sex drive, and weaker concentration. 

Long term, serious medical issues such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes can be even more worrying results of sleep deprivation.  If the natural repair processes that occur during sleep are not working at optimal levels, the human body will not function effectively and the immune system will be compromised.

Compromised work performance

Expert opinion generally recommends getting between seven to eight hours of shut-eye per night. 

If your team is consistently failing to get six, or even five, hours of sleep, the consequences could be seen in the output quality of their work. 

Some insightful recent research was conducted by the Hult International Business School, which found that many respondents to its survey blamed poor work performance on tiredness due to lack of sleep.  These problems include - amongst other things - difficulty focusing in meetings, taking a long time to complete tasks, and struggling to find creativity for coming up with new ideas.

More room for errors

Depending on the line of work your organisation is involved with, sleep deprivation can have serious to disastrous consequences. 

For jobs with any type of health and safety risk attached - from working on a construction site to flying an airplane - lack of sleep could have potentially disastrous consequences. That's because decision making, reaction time, and general judgement is understood to be significantly impacted when somebody has not got the recommended amount of sleep. 

Even for less risky jobs, the result of bad sleep can lead to mistakes which might lose customers and damage credibility.

Psychological and emotional damage

If your employees are not sleeping enough, then they are in line for a negative mental impact which extends beyond simply work tasks. 

The way they communicate and socialise could also be affected adversely, and in an organisational environment, this matters. 

Communication and the ability to work harmoniously alongside others can be crucial, but when we are tired, this essential cog in the organisational machine can become loose. 

That is when relationships in the workplace can begin to deteriorate, and people can become irritable and anxious.

The various causes of sleep problems

Identifying the underlying causes of less than optimal sleep is a process that requires an assessment of lifestyle and habits, some of which may be obvious and some less so.

They can range from too much stress (work, personal or financial), lack of exercise/fitness, bad diet, too much alcohol and/or caffeine, an uncomfortable bed, snoring partners (harder to solve!) and noisy sleep spaces etc etc.  

There are several elements of health and wellbeing that affect sleep, which is why we have a holistic programme which we have put together to address all of the causes of lack of wellbeing within one platform.

Quick tips

So to end this overview, here are some quick-fire tips to help your team get ‘Sleep Fit’ (all of which and more are explored within our wellbeing programme membership portal):

- turn off all electronic devices at least one hour before bed

- exercise every day, but try to avoid strenuous activity in the evening hours

- ensure your bedroom is as dark as possible and a cool temperature

- find the right mattress

- don't drink caffeinated drinks at night

- try to avoid daytime naps

- find a sleep routine which works, and stick to it

It's hard to change routines and habits - but once your employees are empowered with the right information to help them with sleep 'hygiene' they will be much healthier and happier as a result.

Angela Knox

Angela Knox

I am a co-founder and director of Keep Fit Eat Fit Wellbeing Ltd and have come from a business and marketing background over many years, with a particular interest in everything to do with health, fitness and overall wellbeing. Having worked in offices for decades, I know the pitfalls of too much sitting at a desk, the challenges of fitting the gym around other commitments, and all the issues addressed within our website. The personal experiences of me and my partner Mark were the original inspiration for the concept of this website. Enjoy!