Job Performance – Sleep Matters

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As a general rule, we all know that if we don’t get a good night’s sleep, we’re going to be pretty cranky at work the next day. However, what most people don’t realise is exactly how much of an effect a lack of sleep can have on their job performance in the long run.

© Annie Mole
© Annie Mole

Are you getting enough sleep?

The first thing you need to do is recognise the signs. When life gets a bit crazy, perhaps you’ve got a new baby or you’re super busy, or things in your personal life are testing, it can be easy to forget about the very basics we need – eating properly, sleeping properly etc. So although we might feel like dirt because we’ve not had much sleep, we might not really think about why that is, or about resolving it, because everything else serves as a distraction. The reason we need to think about whether or not we are getting enough sleep, is because the lack of it could not only be making your personal life issues worse (or even creating them in some instances) but it could be the reason a lot of things don’t seem to be ‘going your way’ because you simply don’t have the energy to approach them in the way you need to to succeed.

If you’re not getting enough sleep you might be:

  • More grumpy than usual
  • Short tempered
  • Yawning at your desk or throughout your work day
  • Find your clarity of thought is poor
  • Find yourself starting to nod off during meetings or presentations at work

When you’re tired your performance at work will be affected. You don’t work as productively and you don’t retain information as well. One or two nights like these over a few months won’t do any harm to your health, however, after a week or so of poor sleep it gets that bit more serious:

“After several sleepless nights, the mental effects become more serious. Your brain will fog, making it difficult to concentrate and make decisions. You’ll start to feel down, and may fall asleep during the day. Your risk of injury and accidents at home, work and on the road also increases.” – Source

What’s even scarier, is if the lack of sleep continues, your ability to function normally is dramatically reduced and the potential for real damage to your health is high:

“If it continues, lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.” – Source

So it really is important you start paying more attention to your sleep patterns, not just for your career but for your health too.

It may be the case that you have quite a demanding job that gets you stuck in a circle of cutting sleeping hours in order to get the work done. However, this approach will always backfire because you are simply not as productive when you’re lacking sleep. You’ll basically work slower for those longer hours than if you had slept well for the night and worked less hours.


Here are just a few ways skipping sleep affects you at work:

  • Attention – You will find it much more difficult to stick to one task for a sustained amount of time.
  • Concentration – You will find it difficult to focus on what clients, customers or colleagues are saying. You may well find meetings or presentations particularly difficult, especially if you’re expected to listen and not contribute.
  • Reacting – If you’re in a fast paced job, this will be a huge issue. It will also be a dangerous problem when you’re commuting. The reasons are obvious if you’re driving a car or bicycle, but even as a commuter walking along a busy area, if you can’t react quickly to another person coming towards you, or much worse a vehicle you could find yourself getting injured.
  • Making Decisions – This doesn’t just affect those in jobs with authority, but anyone needing to quickly make decisions at work, whether that’s deciding how to deal with a difficult customer, or deciding how to approach a new project. A deficiency in this area affects creative jobs the most, especially when there’s pressure to come up with new ideas and think outside the box.
  • Memory – Your memory will suffer greatly and you may fall victim to the rule of three. Often when people are tired or have too much to think about, they have a rule of three where they can remember up to three things at once, but anything else simply doesn’t register.

With this in mind it’s not hard to see why a lack of sleep can have a huge effect on your performance at work.

Short Term Solutions:

If you’re tired because of one late night, try these short term solutions to help you get through the day:

  • Get as much natural light as you can
  • Get any meetings done in the morning if possible
  • Have a cup of coffee – don’t overdo the caffeine, but one cup in the morning will help you perk up a bit
  • Get a cat nap – if there’s somewhere you can nap for no more than 20 minutes somewhere private at work – do it. It could give you the boost you need to get through the rest of the day.

Long Term Solutions:

If you’re suffering from sleep deprivation long term, try these solutions to help improve your sleep pattern:

  • Is it a medical issue? If you’re suffering from extreme anxiety keeping you up, sleep apnea or any other potentially serious condition – see your doctor and get some professional advice.
  • Tech – are you on your tech until you fall asleep? Is the last thing you see before you close your eyes your phone or laptop? Ban it from your room, it’s providing stimulation when you need to be winding down.
  • Sleeping conditions – your bed is your temple when it comes to sleep, so the conditions need to encourage good sleep. Have clean, fresh bedcovers, a comfortable mattress and lots of quiet. The room should also be cool and dark.
  • Food and drink – you shouldn’t be eating after 8pm (or 6pm if possible) so you’re not bouncing with energy just before bed. You should also avoid caffeine later on in the day which comes in chocolate, hot drinks and even in some painkillers so keep an eye out for hidden amounts.

So there you have it, if you want to be successful and make lots of G’s, you need to be getting plenty of Z’s!

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