Staying up to watch Netflix may be something we all desire, but more often than not, our late nights or all-nighters are spent working. As observed by sleep specialists, many people deliberately forgo sleep to spend more time working.1 A study of over 1700 workers in the USA discovered that an overload of work was more likely to contribute to poor quality sleep.2 The irony is that the poorer our sleep is, the more distracted and inefficient we are at work. Therefore, it’s no surprise that many employees are stuck navigating this cycle of poor sleep and low productivity.
The drastic impacts of poor sleep on work productivity are keenly experienced by both employees and employers alike. A study of over 1000 adults found that short sleep durations of 5-6 hours were detrimental to various areas of employee productivity, such as workplace conflicts, overscheduling, and mental wellbeing.3 Furthermore, the economic impact of poor sleep on employers is substantial. Research has demonstrated that fatigue due to poor sleep has resulted in companies suffering productivity losses of $1967 per employee annually.4 It is clear that ensuring that we achieve healthy sleep quantity and quality is crucial to our work productivity.
Healthy sleep levels for optimal productivity
Both sleep quantity and quality are two key broad metrics to assessing our sleep experiences. Sleep quantity refers to the amount that we sleep every night, while sleep quality measures how well we sleep. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 7 to 9 hours of sleep is the ideal amount of sleep for adults ranging from 18 to 64 years old.5 Good quality sleep typically involves falling asleep within 30 minutes of getting into bed and feeling rested and energized upon waking up.6 Achieving optimal levels of sleep quantity and quality are crucial for employee productivity, as it improves key skills for high-calibre performance, such as problem-solving, concentration, and memory capacity.7
Boosting your sleep quantity and quality
Similar to how we adopt dental hygiene practices of brushing and flossing to maintain our teeth, sleep hygiene practices are pertinent to our sleep. Sleep hygiene refers to our everyday behaviours that maintain good quantity and quality of sleep.8 Therefore, it is important to understand and keep track of our current sleep experiences. One way to do this is to use a sleep diary that tracks our sleep quantity, sleep quality, and sleep hygiene practices. When we accurately assess these sleep experiences, we can observe and change behavioural patterns to achieve optimal sleep and work productivity.
Sleep and employee productivity go hand in hand. Many employees are trapped in the cycle of sacrificing their sleep in a bid to complete more work. Yet, this paradoxically has resulted in lower productivity. Both employees and employers alike need to prioritise sleep, as it not only reduces the cost of productivity losses to employers, but employees can ultimately achieve better productivity, performance, and wellbeing.
By Tammy Lim