None of us are sleeping enough and it's probably why we hate going to work

Not getting to bed on time is costing the UK’s GDP 1.86% every year, equating to 200,000 lost work days - all due to a lack of sleep.
By
Richard Heasman
September 27, 2018

Not getting to bed on time is costing the UK’s GDP 1.86% every year, equating to 200,000 lost work days - all due to a lack of sleep. If there was ever an argument to launch a nationwide sleep campaign, this is it.

The stats make for eye-watering reading. According to RIND, 19% of employees admitted to either coming in late or missing days entirely because they weren’t sleeping enough. And then when they did turn up to work, 65% admitted to being irritable, regularly losing their temper, and not being very productive anyway.

Sound familiar? That moody colleague that seems to even hate the office dog on Monday mornings? Time to hit snooze and put some fresh coffee on because aside from the dent this is having on the country’s coffers, the impact this has on your mental and physical health is even worse.

Counting sheep won’t solve anything

A lack of sleep impacts everything. Your relationship with your peers, friends, family and more importantly, to yourself, are all severely affected. This is because sleep deprivation is associated with reduced metabolic activity within a network of brain regions important for attention, information processing and executive control.

Our own study on the sleepy UK workforce found that 60% of people lost their motivation to learn new things when tired, 48% struggled to even hold a conversation and 60% struggled to come up with a new idea. This theme is continued with basic task management, losing their patience towards fellow colleagues, and even finding themselves dealing with increased physical pains in their back and other muscles.

So what causes all of this? Why can’t we just ‘get more sleep’, why are we lying there staring at the ceiling quickly moving from counting sheep to murdering them in frustration? The route cause can lay a little deeper in our mental state.

A lack of sleep causes weight gain and heart attacks

Your lack of sleep could also be killing you. From increased cases of heart palpitations, anxiety & panic attacks, severe migraines and being susceptible to colds and the flu, not getting enough shut-eye is one of the biggest impacts on your physical health.

Not being able to get enough of it is normally caused by deep routed anxieties, bad diets and too much alcohol, stress, a lack of exercise and using your laptop or phone too much. 48% of us have admitted to not getting enough sleep due to stress alone. But then, a lack of sleep can then cause more stress - establishing a negative cycle.

How can we get more shut-eye

The deepest and most regenerative sleep occurs between 10pm-2am. After 2am, your sleep becomes more superficial.  If you are not getting the deep, regenerative sleep that occurs between 10pm-2am, then you may wake up between 2am-3am, when the sleep cycle naturally becomes more superficial, and have trouble falling back to sleep. If your body is chronically deprived of the regenerative sleep between 10pm-2am, then you may still feel fatigued when you wake up in the morning.

By getting to bed by 10pm you are giving your body every chance to fall asleep properly. Typically, if you miss the 10pm bedtime, it will take much longer to fall asleep. The quality of sleep will also be less refreshing and there will still be a sense of fatigue in the morning.  

Even adjusting your bedtime from 11pm to 10pm will make an enormous difference in the quality of your sleep and enhance your feeling of wakefulness the following day. The reason for this is that you are taking advantage of the natural wave of neurochemistry that is already well on its way before 10pm and you get the added support of the metabolic changes that occur at the 10pm mark.

Our top tip is to be mindful of getting into bed Sunday to Wednesday by 10pm (alcohol free) to ensure we are getting the most restorative sleep so we can be at the top of our game for the week ahead.

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Moving beyond Tipping Point: 3 steps to create a workplace mental health safe zone

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