Losing just 16 minutes of sleep can affect your job performance

Bad news for working parents and insomniacs: losing just 16 minutes of sleep a night can affect your job performance. This is according to a new study by researchers are the University of South Florida, published in Sleep Health (Journal of the National Sleep Foundation).

The study founds that people who miss out on sleep during the work-week are more likely to have poor judgment and fall off-task the next day.

According to a media release, Soomi Lee, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Aging Studies, and colleagues surveyed 130 healthy Information Technology workers who each have at least one school-aged child. They found that when people reported having slept just 16 minutes less than usual and waking 19 minutes earlier than usual, they experienced an increase in cognitive issues the next day. This, in turn, raised stress levels relating to work-life balance, resulting in those participants going to bed earlier and waking up earlier due to fatigue.

“These cyclical associations reflect that employees’ sleep is vulnerable to daily cognitive stress and also a contributor to cognitively stressful experiences,” said Lee in a statement. “Findings from this study provide empirical evidence for why workplaces need to make more efforts to promote their employees’ sleep. Good sleepers may be better performers at work due to greater ability to stay focused an on-task with fewer errors and interpersonal conflicts.”

Researchers also compared workdays to weekends. They concluded (kind of obvious, it seems) that the consequences of less sleep are not as apparent on days when one isn’t working.

How to get more sleep

Losing sleep is awful and there isn’t always something you can do about it. Some people try every piece of advice they get and still can’t sleep. But here are some popular suggestions:

  • Turn off screens at least a few hours before sleeping.
  • If you can’t do that, put screens on night mode at least. A warmer tone is supposedly less hard on the eyes and less disruptive to sleep.
  • Keep your bedroom cool. We’re not supposed to sleep in hot places.
  • Have a bedtime routine. The routine of, say, taking a bath and having some tea, will become a signal to your body that it’s time to sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol at night. Booze can disrupt sleep patterns. You might fall asleep quickly but wake up later and be unable to go back to sleep.
  • Avoid caffeine at night. This seems obvious.
  • Be consistent in your bedtime and wake times.
  • Get some exercise earlier in the day. Exercise is good for everything!
  • Don’t drink too much water (or other liquids) before bed. So you don’t have to get up to pee.

Good night. Sleep tight.

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