We can all have a rough night’s sleep. Tossing and turning through into the early hours, your difficulty at dropping off is exacerbated by knowing how tired you’ll be the next day. Those painful, sleepy days in the office are a reality we all have to experience – but how damaging can it be if it becomes a habit?
Recent research has uncovered what is stopping people from getting a good night’s sleep, and how regular bad sleep can lead to a decline in your general wellbeing at work.
A study of 2,000 workers first asked respondents how much sleep they typically get each night, before asking them a series of questions around their typical evening habits. The results draw up a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to sleeping at night.
The dangers of using smartphones and watching TV before bed are well established now, and the results of the survey only serve to strengthen that. Those who undertake some of the most popular bedtime activities were found to get a lesser quality of sleep each night.
Take smartphones for example, 48% of those who use them before bed are getting less than seven hours of sleep each night (the recommended amount for adults). Almost a quarter (24%) fail to get any more than five hours.
Netflix was also proven to be a significant barrier to a good night’s sleep. Nearly half (49%) of late-night TV-bingers get seven hours of shut-eye or less each night. Over one in five (22%) get no more than five hours.
Not only is the blue light emitted from smartphones and laptops hampering your attempts to sleep, but it keeps your brain active long after you’ve switched them off. Now that being in the office can be as simple as pulling out your smartphone, it can be tempting to just respond to a few emails before bed.
What it will likely lead to is a less productive mind when you’re back in the next day.
When looking for reasons why you don’t get enough sleep, you might need to look no further than the other side of the bed.
Respondents were asked if their partner regularly steals the covers at night. 56% of those that don’t have the covers stolen from them sleep for seven hours or more a night – a 10% increase on those that do.
You might think that how many pillows you rest on each night is just a matter of personal preference, but this study suggests that less really is more.
For the best night’s sleep, rest on one pillow. 56% of respondents who go with one get at least seven hours of sleep a night. The more pillows you add, the lower your chances of getting those precious seven hours becomes. 49% of two pillow users get the recommended seven hours each night, with another drop to 41% for those using three.
The second part of the study delved into a number of office-based questions, and the relationship between productivity and how people rated their sleep out of ten. The result was the establishment of a link between more sleep and three key productivity boosting factors.
Getting better sleep makes you more likely to leap out of bed in a positive, vibrant mood. When asked if they felt generally positive or negative when they wake up, 49% of positive morning people rated their sleep between eight and ten. Just 3% of positive morning people rate their sleep between one and three.
The trend was also consistent with negative morning people. A third of those who feel negative in the morning rate their sleep at three or less, with just 13% at eight or higher.
After a positive morning, these efficient sleepers are also more motivated to get their work done. Asked to rate their motivation at work out of ten, 49% of people who responded between eight and ten also rated their sleep in the same range. For those who rated their sleep between one and three, just 3% said they are motivated above seven when they’re in the office.
What the study sought to highlight was just how important a good night’s sleep is to produce efficient work. Lack of sleep costs the UK economy £40.3 billion every year. As a business, you can help employees get better sleep at night by developing a culture that rewards quality work in office hours.
Some companies bring in policies that directly limit the amount of work that can be done outside of office hours. One option is a “leave your tech in the office” policy. When staff leave, it means they aren’t taking their laptop with them and picking work up at home. Another is the “right to disconnect”, which outlaws any attempt from managers to contact staff on work matters outside of office hours.
If outright policies aren’t for you, ensuring that staff are rewarded for the quality, of their work, and not the number of hours they are in the office, is a good first step to helping employees switch off and enjoy their spare time.
Will Hinch is a writer based in Leeds, England. Specialising in business writing, he focuses on how small businesses can make improvements in a wide variety of ways to ensure their business grows.@Sideshow_Will