How Is Sleep Deprivation Hurting Your Career?

Waking in the morning still feeling tired and cranky? You might suffer from sleep deprivation and could hurt your work performance.

A photo of man holding his forehead looking stressed or tired, surrounded with notes on the wall, an opened laptop on his desk and also an untouched sandwich.

Do you ever feel like getting 7-8 hours of sleep is a myth because you have been trying (and failing) at accomplishing it almost your entire adult life?

We got news for you: waking up still feeling tired, cranky, and anxious the next morning could hurt your work performance and your career in the long run!

What is sleep deprivation?

According to the research done by Harvard School of Public Health, sleep deprivation for an adult and children is defined by insufficient sleep of less than 7 hours in24 hours.

Based on the research, being sleep deprived over a long period of time reduces the quality of your sleep.

In a nutshell, a consistent lack of sleep could impact your health although studies also show that an underlying sleep disorder could similarly be causing you lack of sleep.

What are the common causes of sleep deprivation?

1. Bad sleeping habits
Watching television or looking at digital devices’ screens that emit blue light one or two hours before bedtime, drinking caffeinated or alcoholic drinks in the evening, and not having a regular sleep schedule are a few of poor sleep habits that one should avoid or stop doing entirely.

2. Poor sleep environment
Sleep deprivation can also be caused by environmental factors such as noise, light, temperature, electronic distractions, bed comfort and many others.

These environmental determinants could be reduced by improving one’s sleeping conditions like adding blacked-out curtains, sleeping with a pair of earplugs and eye cover or even by adding an extra layer of bed covers to make your bed more comfortable.

3. Sleeping outside of natural circadian clock

If you are working an overnight shift or have to follow a different time zone due to work requirements, trying to make up for sleep during the day is a red flag of bad sleeping habits. The more your sleep-wake cycle is disrupted, the more desynchronized your sleep-wake rhythm and the natural light-darkness cycle of the day.

4. Suffering from medical condition that creates sleeping disorder
People who suffer from medical conditions like sleep apnea, insomnia, chronic pain, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), periodic limb movement disorder (PLMD) or mental health condition could potentially experience a poor sleep. These conditions make deep sleep almost impossible as they will be awakened a few times at night.

A photo of a professional career woman looking tired or sick while at the office.

How does sleep deprivation affect your work performance?

The long-term effect of sleep deprivation could affect not only your personal life but also your work performance. When a person lacks sleep, it reduces his or her mental abilities while increasing the risk on their physical health at the same time.

Researchers have linked lack of sleep with several health problems that have direct and indirect correlation with poor job performance such as:

  1. Memory issues that could hinder one from remembering new information easily.
  2. Trouble with thinking and concentration thus reducing problem solving capabilities.
  3. Mood change that could lead to being emotionally unstable, quick-tempered, and uninterested in doing the task at hand.
  4. Road accidents caused from being in a state of drowsiness from lack of sleep.
  5. Weakened immunity against illnesses like the common cold, flu, and fever.
  6. High blood pressure resulting from long-term sleep deprivation.
  7. Risk of diabetes when your body starts to release insulin to lower your blood sugar levels.
  8. Weight gain caused by hunger pangs and the brain’s tendency to eat in excess high calorie food especially carbohydrates and high fat food for fuel.
  9. Low sex drive which often relates to a lower libido.
  10. Risk of heart disease is linked to hormone imbalance that could cause inflammation to organs especially the heart.
  11. Poor balance and coordination, making you more prone to physical injuries while at work.

Do you have any of these signs? If you do, talk to your doctor, and proceed to do necessary treatments if you are diagnosed with sleep disorder.

How can you spot a person with sleep deprivation symptoms?

Some easily noticeable signs include excessive yawning especially during the day, getting irritated and anxious easily, and displaying daytime fatigue even when not doing any physical activities.

How to fix sleep deprivation and get high quality sleep?

Here are a few additional tips to improve your sleep quality:

  • Follow a regular sleep schedule. Going to bed at a fixed time every night aids in regulating your circadian clock. Furthermore, by setting a specific time to shut your eyes, you will be able to plan the start of your day around it better.
  • Reduce the use of electronic devices. Excessive use of mobile phones, tablets, computers, and television has long been associated with getting low sleep quality. As advised by experts, put down those blue light emitting devices and dim the bedroom lights at least 1-2 hours before going to bed to help you sleep better.
  • Be more active during the day. A study published in the National Center of Biotechnology Information (NCBI) showed that aerobic exercise has positive effects in the increase total duration of sleep, sleep efficiency and sleep onset latency after their subjects were put on a 6 months training program.
  • Create a calming bedtime routine. Getting your body and mind ready for bed like listening to music or rain or waterfall sound has been shown to help you fall asleep better. Researchers from the NCBI found that music helps to distract your mind against thoughts, as you will only be focused on the music to fall asleep.

What are the benefits of getting enough sleep?

Now that we have established what sleep deprivation does to your body and how it affects your work performance, let’s look at how getting adequate sleep can benefit your personal health and career:

  1. You get sick less often thus not needing to apply sick leave as often
  2. Your risk of getting serious health problems like heart disease and high blood pressure will reduce
  3. You will be able to stay on your healthy weight thanks to hormonal balance
  4. Your mood will improve while stress level reduces at the same time
  5. You will be able to think more clearly and objectively
  6. You will be able to communicate and get along with your colleagues better
  7. Your reaction time and focus will improve hence reducing your risk of being in a work or road accident significantly.

The bottom line

Although sleep needs vary by individuals and factors surrounding their daily lives, 7-8 hours of sleep should be an ideal amount to start reversing your sleep disorder. If you are sleeping enough, feeling awake and energized is something you will experience every morning.

So, start making the most out of your bedtime as it is the best time for your body to relax and repair itself after a long day at work or play. If you feel inspired by these tips, give them a try, and see the improvements in yourself both personally and professionally.

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