Most of the time we try to just carry on with the same work rate as usual, but research suggests for every hour under 8 hours that an adult sleeps we lose at least one IQ point – our reasoning and linguistic skills become far less effective. Indeed, this also has a direct link to our productivity. Sleep deprivation costs the UK economy £40 billion a year. We need more sleep to help us perform at our best level.
We first have to recognise its importance and push it higher up the priority list. A big issue is that managers do not often encourage employees to take time off to address issues of health/sleep etc. One survey reports this to be the case roughly 75% of the time. Managers tend not to give sleep the importance it deserves.
Swedish academic, Roland Paulsen, discovered that much of an employee’s day contained a number of spare hours where they were not directly affecting productivity. Where employees could use this time to sleep, they became more productive the rest of the time.
Indeed, a study of 2,000 UK office workers suggests the average worker only has 2 hours 23 minutes of productive work per day. Further, some companies, including a law firm in the US, have even installed sleep pods at work so that employees can take naps in a more comfortable environment.
“Until fairly recently, sleep wellness was missing from most wellness programmes — they tended to focus on diet, weight, exercise and smoking cessation. That’s been kind of unfortunate because of the major contributionthat sleep makes to health and wellness.”
According to researcher, writer and neurologist, Matthew Walker, who has been researching the issue of sleep for over twenty-five years, individuals who have less sleep select less challenging problems at work.
“They choose the easy way out, generating fewer creative solutions in the process.”
This means that while work might still be completed, innovation is not taken forward, making it harder to move one’s business to the next level. Also, and most interestingly, when leaders have less sleep their employees become less effective, even if they themselves have slept well.
We do not often think about sleep having this domino effect in the workplace, but it is time to ‘wake up and notice’!
As Matthew Walker explains in his excellent book, Why We Sleep, we have at our disposal a free device in nature that could give our society enormous social, political and economic benefits and we waste this commodity. Sleep, he demonstrates with cogent evidence, is the best preventative measure for cancer, heart disease and dementia.
If you’d like to discuss mechanisms that can be used in the workplace to improve productivity, then do please get it touch.