The Business Cost of Sleep Deprivation

by Tess Karesky

In our fast-paced, always-on world, maximizing productivity has become a significant focus. There are seminars, podcasts, websites, and numerous articles dedicated to the subject. Phrases like “always be hustling” and “sleep is for the dead” are promoted as motivation.

If we aren’t taking advantage of every minute of the day it can seem like we’re falling behind. This is especially true in the world of business where productivity and profits go hand-in-hand. It can seem necessary to make sacrifices to find success.

For many, sleep is one of the first things to go. The Centers for Disease Control might recommend at least seven hours of sleep a night for adults, but it seems like a terribly inefficient use of time. What could be more unproductive than lying unconscious for hours on end? Perhaps that’s why 40 percent of Americans reported getting six hours of sleep or less in a recent study.

It turns out sleep plays a pretty vital role in productivity and profits. Companies lose an estimated $2,280 per employee each year due to sleep deprivation, according to Harvard University. A tired worker is a less effective worker. Rest helps your brain in a number of ways, from improving learning to decision making. It also plays a vital role in physical health, including healing blood vessels. Additionally, lack of sleep has a wide range of negative physical and mental effects.

Infographic Sleep Deprivation
Click to view Infographic Source

Some effects of sleep deprivation that hurt productivity include:

  • A compromised immune system
  • Poor judgment
  • Unstable moods
  • Lack of focus

These can have a number of repercussions on work performance. A compromised immune system leads to illness, which results in more sick days or workers that come in sick and infect others. The emotional effects can hurt communication and create tension in the office. A lack of focus can reduce efficiency and increase mistakes. Not to mention, these problems can compound the initial stress creating a cycle of sleep deprivation.

So what causes lack of sleep? Work itself may be the problem. A recent survey from Lexington Law on sleep deprivation found that 1 in 3 Americans are losing sleep due to work stress. This was a factor for more people than any other category, including finances. If employers want productive and healthy workers, they need to put a concerted effort into improving their sleep. That means decreasing stress. Fortunately, there are programs and benefits businesses can provide to help.

Here are some ways employers can help reduce employee stress:

Wellness programs: Wellness programs help employees focus on their health through education and incentives. This can lead to big improvements. In fact, 61 percent of employees reported making healthier lifestyle choices because of their company wellness program.

Financial advising: 24 percent of respondents in the sleep deprivation survey reported losing sleep due to financial worries. Providing programs that help employees learn about finances, manage their money, and create financial goals can help alleviate this worry, getting sleep back on track.

Well-rested employees are an essential part of a productive and profitable business. To learn more about the business cost of sleep deprivation and the benefits that can help, check out the infographic.

Photo: Hernan Sanchez (Unsplash)

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