Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Performance

“Health is wealth” is a proverb that we have grown up hearing and as we grow older we also start to feel this in our daily lives. A good night's sleep is a key element for good health, with adults requiring between seven to nine hours of sleep every night.

But we often tend to sacrifice sleep to squeeze in more work, or suffer from poor quality sleep due to stress and other lifestyle choices. Also, sleep is often seen as the opposite of being productive. The general perception is that sleeping less and working more is what makes people more successful.

However, if we look at the reasons why we sleep, it’s clear that sleep is essential to have our bodies perform at an optimal state. It’s a proven fact that lack of sleep has detrimental effects on health and productivity. The major effects of sleep deprivation include feeling sluggish and exhausted during the day, difficulty is focussing and problem solving, and impaired memory.

We take a closer look at the negative effects of sleep deprivation on performance and productivity.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation in Professional Life

When you feel exhausted throughout the day and your brain and body feel pressured, your work productivity suffers. Once distracted, you cannot regain focus on the work at hand and become forgetful. You cannot process information quickly and your response time increases, which means your ability to take quick decisions takes a beating.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Performance

These can have serious ramifications on your professional life as you may not be taken seriously or worse ignored for worthy projects. A research by Hult International Business School reveals that sleep deprivation has damaging effects on working professionals as their ability to perform at peak suffers and they even suffer physical and emotional damages—lack of focus and decreased creativity.

Sleep deprivation is also often associated with sudden mood swings and unruly behavior (though not always). Chronic sleep deprivation may manifest itself as being easily irritated and unprofessional interactions with colleagues at the workplace—a definite barrier to professional growth.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Social Life

It's not just professional life that gets affected due to perennial lack of sleep. People also suffer emotionally and psychologically. Some of the psychological effects of prolonged sleep deprivation include memory loss, mania, and hallucinations.

Sleep deprived people working as teachers, doctors, or for that matter any profession that has a social impact can have serious effects on the safety of the others. For instance, sleep deprived healthcare providers tending to patients are more prone to making medical errors. Similarly, it's not difficult to imagine the kind of classes one can expect from teachers who've not had a good night's sleep.

Irritability and emotional instability are an evident fallout of inadequate sleep which can affect the social life of people. New parents, especially women, lose out on sleep when tending to the newborns. This can obliterate work-life balance as well as cause relationships to suffer due to increased stress levels.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Personal Life

Due to sleep deprivation, the body cannot regulate stress-busting hormones effectively. This means you not only feel stressed out but also become prone to many illnesses—fever, cold, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disorders and more.

Lack of sleep also triggers the body to release higher amounts of insulin, which means greater fat storage and higher risk to Type 2 diabetes. A research by Chicago University, suggests that lack of sleep can lead to weight gain and obesity. The reason, as cited by the research, for undue weight gain is that shortage of sleep triggers hunger and one tends to overeat.

Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Performance

Sleep loss and disruptions in sleep impair the circadian rhythm which can result in impaired performance and heightened risks of accident.

Most of us drive to work, drop children off at school, go to the gym, or for many other reasons. However, driving in a sleep deprived condition is even more dangerous than driving under influence as it increases your risk of meeting with an accident manifold.

There is a clear established link between inadequate sleep and a range of personal, professional, emotional, psychological, and social problems. The best way around these problems is to ensure you get an uninterrupted sleep of anywhere between seven and nine hours. You may need to make a few changes for a healthier lifestyle such as a consistent sleep schedule, regular exercise, healthy diet, and avoiding beverages such as caffeinated drinks, alcohol, tobacco.

As you can see, sleep isn’t just a passive activity and actually maintains your body at peak performance. Also, lack of sleep doesn’t just impact physical and mental capabilities but also impairs personal, professional, and social interactions.

So if you, or a loved one, are feeling the symptoms of fatigue, stress, or daytime sleepiness, or suffering from diabetes or hypertension, it’s wise to check your sleep patterns. You can:

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