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How Our Sleep Affects Our Work (and Vice-Versa)

Topics: Data & Research

Trying to get a good night’s sleep can sometimes be more difficult than it seems like it should be. First of all, although we all know that sleep is essential for maintaining our physical and mental health, a lot of us treat it like it’s somewhat optional nonetheless. When life, or work-life, gets busy, it’s all too easy to use some of the hours we usually devote to sleep to catch up on “critical” tasks instead. Then, when we finally do get to sleep, the quality of that sleep can also be affected by thoughts about work and the office. Let’s face it, our sleep affects our work and our job affects our sleep. It’s also important to keep in mind that lack of quality and quantity rest could have real and lasting consequences for you, both in and out of the workplace.

sleeping cowboy

(Photo Credit: inkknife_2000 (6 million views +)/Flickr)

In response to the current state of these affairs, Harris Poll, on behalf of CareerBuilder, recently conducted a survey of over 3,200 workers in the private sector, from various industries, in an effort to learn more about how the American worker is benefiting, or not, from the Zzz’s they do manage to squeeze in. The results were revealed quite a bit not just about how our sleep impacts our jobs, but also about the ways in which the reverse is also true. Let’s take a closer look at some of the findings.

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1. Sleep deprivation impacts the majority of workers.

Probably the most profound takeaway from these survey results is that the majority of workers are sleep deprived. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed said they feel that they don’t get enough sleep, and 61 percent said that lack of sleep has a negative impact on their work.

2. Work is part of the problem.

One of the reasons that folks don’t get enough sleep is because they’re thinking (worrying) about work. Forty-four percent of survey respondents said that thinking about work keeps them up at night.

3. The American worker is under-achieving when it comes to meeting their sleep goals.

Only 16 percent of workers report getting the recommended eight hours of sleep per night (actually, the range is seven to nine hours for adults) while 63 percent said they average six to seven hours a night. Alarmingly, one in five workers average less than five hours of sleep per night. While some claim they can function just fine on such little sleep, the vast majority of them are incorrect.

4. Some take time off to try and get some sleep.

It turns out that lack of sleep has a real and tangible impact on workplace productivity. Twenty-one percent of workers have called in sick in order to catch up on some shut-eye. Unfortunately, we are meant to sleep fairly regularly, and “catching up on sleep” doesn’t work as well as we’d like to believe it does.

5. Some sleep on the job.

Over 40 percent of the workers surveyed said that they’d caught someone sleeping at work at some point in time. About the same number, 39 percent, said they’d take advantage of a “nap room” if one was available to them.

These results shed some startling light on our collective sleep problems and how they impact our work and personal lives. Perhaps they can help us make some corrections.

“Rest is an undervalued necessity these days,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, told PRNewswire. “We see more and more workers check into the office at all hours of the day, give up vacation time and work even when they’re sick. Yet it’s not necessarily making us more productive, and companies are starting to recognize that. We’re starting to see companies put more emphasis on employee wellness and work/life balance – whether it’s providing designated ‘nap rooms’ for employees, encouraging them to take advantage of their vacation time or simply giving them more flexibility in their work schedules.”

Be sure to check out all of the survey results for more information. There is more data related to how workers feel sleep impacts their job performance, and also some statistics on how work influences our dreams. (Spoiler: 10 percent of workers say they’ve dreamed about telling off their boss.)

Tell Us What You Think

Do you think your sleep affects your work and/or vice-versa? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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sleep effects all aspects of our lives. I think that we have not focused enough on actually ensuring high quality sleep. I can really recommend this sleep blog which helped me work on the quality of my sleep!

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