The high cost of poor sleep how poor sleep affects you at work

Productivity during the day is, to a large extent, influenced by the quality of sleep you had the night before. We have all, at one time or another experienced a day of work after not getting enough sleep the night before. Just one bad night can impact work performance, but when a person is routinely not getting enough quality sleep it can have significant effects on their productivity.

To put the impact of sleep deprivation into better perspective, one study showed that someone who had a blood alcohol level of 0.06%, which is just above the legal blood alcohol limit for driving in South Africa of 0,05%, performed better in set tasks than those who were suffering from untreated sleep deprivation. 

Common causes of insomnia include:

  • Anxiety, stress, or psychological conditions 
  • Medical conditions including chronic sinusitis, allergies or restless leg syndrome 
  • Certain medications 
  • Environmental factors, such as noise or light

Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to help improve your sleep:

  • Keep your bedroom dark. Even the light of an electronic alarm clock can disrupt your sleep cycle
  • Switch off all electronic devices like cell phones, televisions and laptops at least one hour before bedtime. The blue light produced by mobile devices acts as a stimulant, keeping your brain active and unable to get to sleep
  • Cut down on caffeine, which is found in coffee, certain teas and chocolate, as these stimulants will keep your heart rate high and prevent you from getting enough sleep. Your last cup should be in the early afternoon.
  • Exercise regularly and do not eat large, heavy meals just before bedtime 
  • Develop a consistent sleep routine. This means that you should try to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day
  • Avoid long naps during the day as this will make it difficult to fall asleep at night
  • Make sure that your bed, pillow and duvet are comfortable, as these ‘tools’ play a vital role in your ability to sleep
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom at night to minimise disturbances
  • Avoid alcohol, particularly during the week, as this can inhibit restful ‘rapid eye movement’ (REM) sleep

If you find that you still feel tired during the day, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder and should consider making an appointment with your doctor to get to the root of the problem as sleep is essential to all-round wellbeing and improved sleep will benefit your health, your state of mind, and your ability to handle the tasks you face every day.