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Is Lack of Sleep Killing Your Career?


A recent survey of over 20,000 people around the world found that not only are we not sleeping all that well at night, but come sunrise, we’re calling in sick to work. The average person missed 7.4 days of work per year due to bad sleep! That’s over a working week lost to tossing, turning, and plain old staring at the ceiling at night. Just how can we improve our sleep cycles and wake up to a well-rested self?

sleepy bears

(Photo Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr)

How Does Bad Sleep = Bad Day?

Do You Know What You're Worth?

The online survey asked respondents about their sleep habits. They weren’t concerned with that late Thursday night you spent out in the club, but instead, the regular Tuesdays where you had trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or just hit the alarm in the morning still feeling unrested. What this can mean for workers is they’re so messed up from a bad night’s (or multiple nights’) sleep that they’re struggling to feel normal in the bright light of day. It’s not something that a bucket of coffee can fix. At a certain point, your body is going to flat out quit on you.

Health Problems Only Start with “Grogginess”

WebMD points out that poor sleep doesn’t just affect you, it ripples over to others in your path during the day. Just getting to work when you’re tired can cause catastrophe. The National Sleep Foundation looks at “drowsy driving” accidents each year (as well as they can, since reporting is spotty by police departments or drivers themselves). They remark that “sleep deprivation and fatigue make lapses of attention more likely to occur, and may play a role in behavior that can lead to crashes attributed to other causes.”

Not getting enough sleep also affects your body physically. Chronic sleep loss can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even strokes. Plus, we get bummed out about not sleeping. Studies have shown that insomnia and depression often go hand-in-hand.

When we can’t sleep well, the next day we’re not only groggy, but also more forgetful, less attentive, and have impaired judgment.

What Your Work Can Do

Fast Company points out that many companies are trying to treat employees’ sleep issues by doing everything from combating sleep apnea to hiring sleep coaches to personally address workers’ issues.

What you can do at home is try to leave work and other stressors far, far away from your bed. Not only are screens not a good idea in the bedroom, but you have to also give your brain time to wind down after a crazy day. No typing emails right up until bed and no making notes on the next day’s presentation and then expecting yourself to just “turn off” like your bedside light. Give your mind (and eyes) a break with some light reading from a real book. Try sharing your thoughts with a loved one during a daily “download” of ideas. Creating a sleep ritual can help to regulate your bedtime.

When you’re feeling out of control with your sleep, it’s important to not give up, but to seek professional help. Talk to your doctor about your sleep issues, and they can discuss prescription or even behavioral help like sleep apnea treatments.

Tell Us What You Think

Have you called in “sleep deprived” to work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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