If you are feeling even just a little bit drowsy during the day or feel like you need a nap in the afternoon, you are not getting enough sleep. And you are probably also not doing your work as well as you should. You may even be endangering yourself and others.
While legions of studies have not been able to pinpoint exactly what happens to our brains while we sleep, it is evident that sleep “recharges our batteries” and gives us the mental and physical energy to cope with life’s challenges. When we don’t get enough sleep or good quality sleep, our batteries do not get the recharge required.
The prefrontal cortex of the brain – the part responsible for most of the higher cognitive functions such as decision-making, reasoning, complex thoughts, memory, logical thinking – is especially vulnerable to sleep deprivation. Studies have illustrated that sleep deprivation can lead to slower thinking, difficulty in learning, concentration problems, impaired judgement and trouble with memory.
- The nuclear explosion at Chernobyl, the catastrophic Exxon Valdez oil spill and the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger have all been linked to a fatigued workforce.
- If you sleep less than 7.5 hours a night, you are around 60% more likely to get injured.
- 20% of all road accidents in, for example, the USA are linked to driver fatigue.
- A single night of deprived sleep can have the same effect on the brain as a legally intoxicating blood-alcohol level.
How much is enough?
Most of us have been taught to believe that adults need around eight hours of sleep each night. This is an average, as some people might be fine with less, while others might need more. A good rule of thumb is to get enough sleep to prevent you from feeling sleepy or drowsy during the course of the next day.
Getting good sleep on a regular basis is also important. One night of good sleep is not enough to stay attentive and alert. Losing a little sleep every night over time can also be detrimental to work performance.
Our Employee Wellbeing Programme (EWP) is available 24 hours a day if you think you are not getting enough sleep and want to do something about it. Call us on the EWP number or email us at
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