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How Sleep Affects Productivity of Business Leaders?

February 9, 2017

Sleep is extremely important if you want to function like a normal human being throughout the day. If you aren’t getting the proper amount of sleep, it can alter activity in certain parts of the brain. If you are deficient on sleep, you may find yourself facing trouble to concentrate and completing even smallest of the tasks such as problem solving, effective decision making, emotional control, or coping with change can seem to be a herculean challenge.

If you’re a business professional, then sleep deprivation could have serious effects on your job, which is why you need to know how to manage your sleep to increase productivity levels.

How Sleep Affects Productivity?

Have you ever had a crummy night of sleep and your work suffered the next day? Those who are sleep deficient have issues completing tasks on time, make mistakes, and have lower reaction times.

If you are losing 1-2 hours of sleep over a few days, your functionality will suffer as if you haven’t slept for 2 days straight. If this is the case, you can suffer from microsleep, which are brief moments of sleep that happen when you are normally awake.

Poor sleep can lead to a magnitude of issues that include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Undermining performance
  • Diminished productivity
  • Weakened social and interpersonal skills
  • Increase of accidents and injuries

A lot of people don’t even realize they are sleep deficient because they are so used to not sleeping and still being able to function, even though they aren’t doing it well.

Studies show that sleep deficiency can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. So, if you are a pilot, lawyer, health care worker, assembly line worker, or anyone else with a dangerous job or a line of work that directly deals with people, your sleep problems can have great effect on those around you.

A Harvard research study showed that the average worker misses 11.3 days worth of productivity each year, which is equivalent to $2,280, roughly. If you think about it, large number of employees, let’s say 15, would lose almost 170 days of productivity lost. Nationally, there is a loss of $63.2 billion in productivity, which is a huge problem. Sleep deprivation could mean the difference between promotion or being fired.

Sleep and Brain Function

If you’re a hardworking professional, sleep should be one of the things on the top of your list. The reason being, that sleep deprivation can impair certain brain networks that control behaviour and cognitive abilities.

Scientists have found that the metabolism and blood flow in certain parts of the brain was reduced in those who aren’t getting enough sleep.

If your brain function isn’t working at its best, you aren’t going to be as productive as you could be, while you’re at work. Not to mention, you’re more likely to snap at co-workers, you may be moody, and nobody is going to want to be around you. It makes for a very stressful day.

Lack of sleep can also lead to a number of other issues such as depression, risk-taking behaviours, and even suicide. You could also find it more difficult to cope with change, and you may feel angry or impulsive. When you do finally sleep, your brain can form new pathways to help you remember information and learn which is why you should miss out on sound sleep.

See: Productivity and Performance Efficiency Killer: Are You Deprived of Sound Sleep?

The Effect of Sleep Deprivation on Innovation

The area of your brain that affects innovation is the prefrontal cortex. When you are lacking sleep, it can affect this region of your brain. A study conducted in 1999 found that if you lose out even 24 hours of sleep over a few nights, it can have a huge impact on thinking and flexible decision making. If you are no longer innovative, it could prove damaging to meet objectives of the organisation you serve or to your own business.

Sleep and Your Health

Your health can take a huge toll on how well you perform at work. If you aren’t at your best, your work isn’t going to be at its best. If you are starving yourself of sleep, there are number of risk factors that come along with it when it comes to your health. The following is just a short list of few health risks observed due to lack of sleep:

  • Heart Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Heart failure
  • Heart attack
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Mood disorders
  • Immune Function

It has been said that those who aren’t sleeping properly are at a greater risk for a number of diseases and health issues. Scientists have been tracking sleep habits and patterns to see how sleep deprivation can affect health.

The overall life expectancy of those who are sleep deprived is further reduced by a whopping 15 percent. Epidemiological studies show this in those who only sleep five hours per night. Unfortunately, 50-70 million Americans suffer from multiple sleep disorders and they aren’t aware of all the risks.

Managing Your Sleep Habits

Your sleep habits say a lot about how well or unwell you sleep. If you are staying up late at night and not paying any attention to what time it is, you’re very likely to stay up for most of the night and only get a few hours of sleep.

Your best bet is to make sure that your mattress is comfortable enough for you, if you think it’s the reason why you aren’t sleeping and you need to shut off all the electronics at least an hour before bed. This will help your brain wind down and the lack of light from the screens will tell your brain that it’s time for sleep.

You could also try some breathing exercises or some yoga. There are wonderful articles all over the Internet, which advise on  a lot of yoga poses for better sleeping.

It’s also important that you limit food and drinks before bed, especially coffee and alcohol. The alcohol will put you to sleep, but it won’t be deep and you’re will more likely feel even worse in the morning. Once you find yourself in a good routine, you will be sleeping much better and your productivity will increase at work.


You see, sleep and productivity go hand in hand. We all know that sometimes it can be tough to get a great night sleep, especially if you have a lot on your mind. The average adult should get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night in order to feel rested the next day.

This might seem tough in our hectic work lives, but as mentioned earlier, if you get yourself into a good routine and on a comfortable bed, you’ll have no problems entering a deep slumber each night.


Author credit: Frank Apodaca is the lead editor at The Sleep Judge, which provides product reviews and tips to better improve your sleep. You can know more on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube.

Also read: Wake-Up Call for Managers: Impact of Sleepiness on Human Behaviours at Work

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Content rights: The views expressed in this piece are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the publication’s view on the subject. This article is not edited for reference checks by HR in Asia and in case of plagiarism content, the author is solely responsible. The author is not remunerated for this guest contribution.

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