Every year, millions are spent on improving productivity through workplace training, development of leadership skills, and increasing employees’ incentives.
However, there is one factor that seems to be neglected – sleep.
Sleep disorders have serious consequences on workplace performance, with insomnia having the worst influence on work productivity.
Insomnia, or sleeplessness, refers to a person’s inability to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night.
It is a serious sleep issue that affects 27 percent of working women and 20 percent of men.
Moreover, it is estimated that it costs the American workforce over $63 million in lost productivity.
In this article, we will discuss how insomnia impacts on-the-job performance and what employees can do to avoid being part of these alarming statistics.
5 ways insomnia affects productivity
1. A decrease in focus and alertness
Not sleeping well during the night leads to workers feeling defocused and drowsy in the morning. As a result, they cannot pay attention and can become easily confused and distracted.
Insomnia also has an effect on a person’s ability to multi-task and make decisions.
This is particularly difficult as sleep deprivation impairs your cognitive skills and doesn’t let you assess the situation properly so as to make the right decision.
2. Sleeplessness hinders innovation
Your brain does not function properly without enough sleep. This, in turn, affects your problem-solving skills and creative flow.
Insomniacs spend less time in the REM sleep stage, the time of night when our dreams are most active and vivid.
By not going through the full sleep cycle, you do not get the advantages REM sleep gives to creativity.
3. Fewer sleep results in more mistakes
Sleep deprivation interferes with optimal brain activity.
Studies show that workers who complain of inconsistent sleep are more prone to making errors in the workplace.
This impact productivity both in terms of damages caused and time lost.
4. Unpleasant working environment
Research reveals that a lack of sleep also affects emotional intelligence.
This includes having less empathy towards co-workers, reduced control of impulses, as well as more negative thoughts and behavior.
Restless nights make a person feel cranky and irritable, thus increasing a tendency towards stressed interpersonal relationships.
5. Insomnia damages memory
Acquiring, storing, and recalling memories is a complex process that involves several areas of the brain, which are influenced by sleep deprivation.
Low sleep quality can result in missing a meeting or failing to carry out an important task, or even something as simple as forgetting a colleague’s name.
All of these are harmful to work performance and efficiency.
How can you alleviate some of the insomnia symptoms?
There are several techniques one can try to prevent or treat the symptoms of sleeplessness.
1. Create a peaceful sleep environment.
A calm and relaxing space that is not associated with work-related stress is proven to be conducive to a good night’s sleep.
2. Stick to a healthy sleep routine.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends, improves your circadian rhythm and lowers the risk of sleep deprivation.
3. Be careful with what you eat and drink.
Food such as turkey or nuts that is rich in protein and tryptophan is known to induce sleep while eating red meat and broccoli is likely to result in poor sleep quality.
Alcohol and coffee should also be avoided as they increase alertness and make it more difficult to fall asleep.
4. No blue light.
Using electronic devices before bedtime has a negative effect on sleep quality and quantity.
Not only does it take up time, but it also increases melatonin levels that stop you from getting enough sleep.
5. Educate people about the importance of sleep.
One of the most important things is not to underestimate the significance of a good night’s rest.
Knowing the dangers that can arise from sleep disorders will help managers and workers address them and start to remedy the consequences.
Let technology give you a hand
Tips on sleeping better are helpful, but there is also a variety of tech devices specially created to improve your sleep time.
1. Sleep apps
Some applications like Nature Sounds Relax & Sleep and Relax Melodies use sounds and music to lull you off to sleep.
Others, such as Sleepio, use cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to retrain your brain and actually treat insomnia.
The Sleep Cycle Alarm app, on the other hand, monitors your sleep habits and sets an alarm that wakes you up in the optimal time so that you feel fresh and rested.
Experts agree that most of the apps have a good design and are easy to use.
Although there is room for improvement, some of the applications can, in fact, help people suffering from insomnia, whether it is to identify the issue or create a soothing atmosphere to help them sleep better.
2. Sleep trackers
Like sleep apps, trackers monitor your behavior through the night – movement, heart, and respiration rate.
They can improve your sleep time by showing you how long it takes you to fall asleep or how many hours you sleep at night.
Most fitness trackers and watches can also be used to record sleep behavior, such as Fitbit Ionic, for example.
This device not only measures your movement while you sleep, but it also logs your water, caffeine, and alcohol intake, showing you how your diet affects your sleep.
Ever Sleep is another tracker worn around the wrist that records your blood oxygen levels as well as offering customized tips to improve your sleep routine.
For people who are not fans of trackers, there are headbands. Ebb Technology is an FDA-approved treatment for insomnia that cools the frontal cortex, so it calms the “racing mind.”
It controls the body’s temperature until it hits the REM sleep stage, giving both the body and brain a chance to relax.
Similarly, SmartSleep by Philips, the latest clinically-proven wearable device to improve sleep, measures brain activity.
Once it records that you are in “slow-wave sleep,” i.e., the most restorative sleep stage, it uses sounds to ensure better sleep quality.
There are plenty of other tech solutions on the market, from smart beds to light therapy, designed to help insomnia sufferers lead better and healthier lives.
Insomnia is a serious sleep disorder and one of the most common sleep issues in the world.
Whether it is caused by work-related stress or other factors, it certainly has a damaging effect on productive capacity and efficiency.
Fortunately, there are many solutions, both medical and technological, that can treat some of the symptoms and effects of sleeplessness.
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Andriana Moskovska is proud to call herself SmallBizGenius’s community manager. Her mission is simple: to connect small business owners with the best tools and resources to help them thrive. When she’s not working, Andriana likes to go for walks with her two pet dachshunds and binge-watch documentaries, usually not at the same time.