Sleep deprivation in work: a cause for concern?

Sleep deprivation in work: a cause for concern?

Sleep deprivation in work: a cause for concern?

Sleep deprivation in work: a cause for concern? While the benefits of a good night’s sleep are widely known, over 71% of UK adults don’t get the recommended 7–9 hours of sleep per night. Even more worrisome, 1 in 7 sleep for less than 5 hours per night which is very low, and 1 in 10 only get 2–4 hours per night. Sleep deprivation leads to a staggering 171% increase in absence likelihood and costs the UK economy approximately £37 billion overall per year in lost productivity.

Lack of sleep can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as:

  • stress,
  • shift work,
  • illness or injury,
  • chronic health conditions,
  • ageing,
  • personal loss,

and more.

While occasional lack of sleep is likely to have largely unnoticeable effects, if it becomes a pattern, it significantly increases the risk of adverse consequences. The most prominent symptoms usually include a decrease in productivity, communication, concentration, and cognitive functioning.

signs of sleep deprivation

Bad mood, risk-taking behaviour, and physical unwellness are also commonly present in cases of sleep deprivation.

Sleep deprivation has been linked to a higher risk of a number of health issues, such as:

  • obesity,
  • cardiovascular disease,
  • stroke,
  • cancer,
  • dementia,
  • numerous mental health conditions
  • diabetes,

and it has been shown to be a contributing factor to a reduced life expectancy.  

Sleep deprivation in the workplace

If your employees are not getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, it is likely to have an effect on your workplace.

Lack of sleep is one of the biggest factors in absenteeism and presenteeism.

Poor sleep increased the risk of mistakes, accidents, and injuries in the workplace, which is especially dangerous in safety critical industries such as construction and aerospace.

Workplace culture and interpersonal relationships can also be affected due to increased stress and anxiety associated with sleep deprivation, leading to increased pressure in tense situations.

Shift workers, employees working irregular and/or long hours, and those caring for young children or elderly relatives, are most at risk of developing issues with their sleep.

What can you do to help?

sleep deprivation in the workplace

Consider making adjustments to the workplace and the processes.

Ensure scheduling involves as little double shifts and overtime as possible.

Consider the working environment and how it can be improved to help your staff – brighter lights for night shifts, ventilation where possible to avoid stuffiness.

Offer advice through webinars, EAPs, and wellbeing applications to ensure your employees are aware of the support they have access to, and they can work towards improving their sleeping habits.

Set an example and encourage your employees to maintain a healthy work/life balance. This includes not sending or answering emails out of hours, limiting meetings o working hours, and switching off on time.

Educate about and encourage regular exercise, healthy eating, and stress management.

Consider implementing a 4-day work week.


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If you have any questions, or think your employees might benefit from our services, don’t hesitate to reach out!