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How lack of sleep affects your work performance

We all know those foggy and “everything is so loud!” feelings that come with going to work tired.  But how exactly does a lack of sleep affect your work performance? Hint – its grim.

A 2008  Sleep in America®  poll found that 29 percent of people said they had fallen asleep or became very sleepy at work in the previous month, More than one fourth of workers said that daytime sleepiness interferes with their daily activities at least a few days each month and 12 percent were late to work in the last month because of sleepiness.

Disasters such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the Challenger explosion, and Chernobyl’s nuclear accidents have all been linked with sleep-deprived workers. For people whose jobs involve driving, several other studies have documented the dangers of drowsy driving, which are on par or even potentially more dangerous than drunk driving.

The general effect of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance is well-known: Stay awake longer than 18 consecutive hours, and your reaction speed, short-term and long-term memory, ability to focus, decision-making capacity, math processing, cognitive speed, and spatial orientation all start to suffer.

An article from the Harvard Business Review interviewed renowned sleep researcher and Harvard professor Dr. Charles A. Czeisler on the subject of sleep deficit. To demonstrate the seriousness of the issue, he states:

“In a study our research team conducted of hospital interns who had been scheduled to work for at least 24 consecutive hours, we found that their odds of stabbing themselves with a needle or scalpel increased 61%, their risk of crashing a motor vehicle increased 168%, and their risk of a near miss increased 460%. Otherwise intelligent, well-mannered managers do all kinds of things they’d never do if they were rested—they may get angry at employees, make unsound decisions that affect the future of their companies, and give muddled presentations before their colleagues, customers, the press, or shareholders.”

So, how can we combat this? Well, on a societal level we need companies to recognise that a tired workforce is a dangerous work force at worst and an underperforming workforce at best.

On a daily level, if you can establish some healthy sleep hygiene habits such as the ones below then you can start to make positive steps to getting a good 8 hours a night:

  • Using good shutters/curtains to block out all the light
  • Invest in a good bed. Koala mattresses are designed to be both comforting and supportive, and have had over 10,000+ positive reviews.  It’s the perfect feel, breathes and has no disturbance when your partner rolls over. The Koala mattress has also been tested for all the nasty chemicals that can be found in other mattresses.
  • Invest in good pillows. The Koala pillow has the technology to cater for different sleeping positions with its high and low side.
  • Dim lights in the lead up to bed time
  • Minimising screen time in the hour and a half before bed – its ok to turn it off!
  • Making sure your last cup of coffee isn’t within the 5 hours that you wish to fall asleep in.

Let us know how you get on at work after having cleaned up your sleep life, we can almost guarantee that things will be improved!

About the writer

Genevieve spends her days enjoying the organic farm life she leads in rural New Zealand along with her husband and three young boys. Genevieve is passionate about ensuring she leaves the world a better place for the next generation. With a background in neuroscience and a deep understanding (thanks kids!) of the importance of sleep working with Koala on the marketing team is a natural fit

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