Employee Engagement

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Sep 13, 2021

The Dramatic Effect of Sleep on Employee (and Employer) Performance

by Jake Burgess

In the U.S., the glorification of long work hours, early starts, and “optimizing sleep” is approaching fetishism. Rampaging through life with minimal sleep is impressive and virtuous, while snoozing nine hours a night or sleeping past 9:00 a.m. is considered lazy and unambitious. Only recently have scientific investigations been made to truly understand what constitutes good sleep habits — and the very serious effects of these habits on our health and cognition. In this piece we want to look specifically at work performance. From the lowest ranking employee to the CEO, what is the effect of sleep? How damaging is a one-off or chronic lack of sleep, really, and does being “well rested” actually make a difference? How much sleep is too little? If you suffer one night of less than seven hours of sleep, you are sleeping inadequately. If you regularly sleep six or fewer hours, you are chronically sleep deprived. It doesn’t matter if you sleep like a baby or think you feel fine (we are hopeless at self-diagnosing), this lack of sleep is scientifically proven to be harmful. In response to those who claim they’re built different and can survive on heavily limited sleep, let’s quote Matthew Walker, a brilliant researcher and probably the world’s foremost expert on sleep: “The number of people who can survive on 5 hours of sleep or less without any impairment, expressed as a percent of the population, and rounded to a whole number, is zero.” In reality, we all need between seven […]

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