April 19, 2012

The Productivity Costs of Sleep Deprived Workers

sleepy catMost people experience periods of insomnia when your mind simply won’t shut off when you need it to. Sometimes individuals choose to lose sleep in order to catch up on neglected personal or professional duties. But while the symptoms of sleep deprivation can be troubling on their own, they can also lead to disasters on the road and in the workplace.

In fact, some studies have produced a number to quantify the financial loss attributable to sleep deprivation: $18 billion per year.

“Americans tend to under-sleep by choice, burning the candle at both ends due to hectic work and family schedules,” says Laura Stack, time management and productivity expert and professional blogger. “We believe we can have more time for work and family by allowing ourselves less time for sleep. However, many of us do snooze—at work, driving to and from work—in a state of stupefied sleepiness.”

Excessive sleepiness at work can account for a productivity decrease of up to one-third and affects the quality and amount of work of which an employee is capable. And those errors, injuries, and other health-related consequences caused by drowsiness only adds to the costs past on to employers.

For many people, sleeping less is simply a matter of efficiency, but a recent survey found that 85 percent of people would make an effort to sleep more if they were sure it would improve their life. What many people may be overlooking here are the effects of sleep deprivation such as lapses in short-term memory, lessened reaction time, difficulty concentrating, and depression of the immune system.

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Joshua Bjerke, from Savannah, Georgia, focuses on articles involving the labor force, economy, and HR topics including new technology and workplace news. Joshua has a B.A. in Political Science with a Minor in International Studies and is currently pursuing his M.A. in International Security.