The Impact Of Sleep Deprivation In The Workplace

Sleep deprivation

Yawn…if just seeing the word makes you yawn and feel tired then you may want to consider if you are getting enough sleep every night.  Having problems with sleep, or sleep deprivation, is a common issue with many people in the UK, with the NHS estimating that one in three people suffer poor sleep.

The reasons for this can be varied, with some people blaming the use of computers, taking their work home with them or even stress for their lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation is well known for causing low moods, with people experiencing negative emotions more easily when tired and a reduction in their levels of productivity.

A Nation of Tired Workers

New research from Sealy UK reveals that the vast majority of employees in the UK are reporting to work feeling sleep deprived. The survey of 5,000 people across the UK of working age found that 70% admitted that they felt that they could function much better at work if they could sleep better.

Along with this, a staggeringly high 77% felt that they did not get to have the rest and recovery time that was needed to help them feel both happy and healthy. This in turn leads to issues in the workplace with 65% losing their temper or being irritable to colleagues. It’s not only a lack of productivity (30%) or change in temperament that raises eyebrows, but the fact that 1 in 25 workers are so tired that they have fallen asleep while in the workplace.

What should be particularly worrying for employers across the UK is that 11% of workers have had an accident at work recently due to feeling tired, which includes a trip or a slip. Given the incredibly high rates of tiredness in professions such as construction (77%) or transport and communications (76%), the prospect for an increase in accidents should be particularly worrisome given these industries present plenty of opportunities for life threatening injuries.

Indeed, in October 2017 a fatigued train driver experienced a ‘mini-sleep’ which resulted in their train hitting the buffers in London King’s Cross, so it is in both the employer and the employee’s best interests to try and ensure they are well rested.

The most sleep deprived professions were found to be:

  • Hospitality (86%)
  • Banking and finance (79%)
  • Construction (77%)
  • Retail (76%)
  • Transport and Communications (76%)

It is understandable then that managers should consider how they can put sleep high on their agenda, as a well rested workforce is not only more productive but also safer. This can include encouraging flexible working to enforcing that work is not taken home by employees, allowing them to rest during their non-working hours.

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Sarah Jubb

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