Wellness

Sleep Affects the Working World

Workers aren’t getting enough sleep—and it’s not good for the workplace. Besides the detrimental effects to wellness, a lack of sleep contributes to poor decision making. Part of the problem is managerial cultures that treat constant wakefulness as a badge of honor.

We don’t sleep enough—on average, only 6½ hours a night. Sleep researcher Professor Vicki Culpin discovered this in a major survey based on over 1,000 employees. According to the American Sleep Association, healthy adults 20 to 60 years of age need an average of between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night to stay healthy.

Culpin found there were several other effects of a lack of sleep besides frequent headaches or susceptibility to colds, and these led to the following problems at work: difficulty interacting with colleagues, concentrating in meetings, or limited social skills.

Likelihood of Making Riskier Decisions

“For some people, their ability to make decisions slows down,” explains Culpin, in a press release. Because they don’t process every piece of information rationally, they tend to make riskier decisions. This could be seen both in human resources professionals who usually enjoy taking risks and among those that tend to be risk-averse.

This situation is aggravated by the fact that people suffering from a lack of sleep tend to have more confidence in such a risky decision, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. On the whole, staff lower in the hierarchy reported worse impairments than those in higher management positions. “Lack of sleep is not only an issue for employees who are dealing with the greatest level of pressure and stress. It is a companywide problem—across all levels from junior colleagues right up to the CEO.”

Managers Boast of Ability to Get by on Little Sleep

“It may be that more junior people are more prepared to talk openly about the effects of poor sleep because they do not regard it as career suicide,” presumes Vicky Culpin. She also concluded that more senior employees are perhaps a little savvier in disguising the effects, or they are just ashamed to talk about it.

To this day, many managers boast of their ability to get by on little sleep, such as Marissa Mayer from Yahoo, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, or U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump. At the same time, top executives, such as Arianna Huffington, claim a good night’s sleep is their recipe for success. Against this background, human resources professionals are increasingly interested in sleep as an item on their corporate health agenda.

For more information on this study, click here.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, we provide some wellness training tips related to stress reduction.