We all experience days where we wake unrefreshed and go about our day feeling tired, or reach our productivity threshold earlier than we would wish. If a once off or random occurence, it’s not serious however when one seeks the vibrancy of life, a ongoing suboptimal sleep pattern could be a likely cause. Without being aware, sleep conditions such as insomnia, sleep apnea or waking frequently during the night; may be present.
If sleeping well is something you dream of, you are not alone as studies show that
- 30% of the general population complain of occasional sleep disruption
- 10% have symptoms of daytime functional impairment and chronic insomnia
- 16% of working adults do work just before bed and have frequent sleep difficulties or struggle to function optimally during the day due to sleep-related symptoms
- 23% report that their typical weekday routine prevented them from getting enough sleep
The good news when you able to improve sleep quality and or quantity is that working adults getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep per night had a lower risk for chronic disease, were absent less, and were more productive. So, what exactly happens to our performance when we have poor sleep?
- Sleep disruption has shown to suppress one’s immune system, making it easier for one to get sick and more difficult to recover from illness. Sleeping fit would reverse and or substantially reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, being overweight, chronic stress and psychological problems.
- You may be getting enough time in bed, but often what is perceived as adequate sleep duration, may in fact be marred by frequent awakenings (sleep apnea) and therefore lead to poor sleep quality. Improving sleep quality increases concentration, decision making ability, and one’s ability to solve problems.
- In the work environment improving energy and reducing fatigue directly impacts the company’s bottom line. A US survey addressing sleep health in employees, those with difficulty sleeping “often” or “always” were more likely to have additional health care costs of $3600 to $5200 per person per year more than those who “never” have sleep problems. When a company undergoes a fatigue assessment in the workplace, there are various solutions to improving energy management in the organization.
- Sleep disruption could affect personal and work relationships. Limiting one’s sleep for just a week, is enough to make you feel more stressed, angry, sad, and mentally exhausted. Poor sleep as a result of suboptimal duration, quality and consistency impair the emotional regulation needed for healthy interactions in such a way that it decreases the ability to handle stress, lowers attention-span which may lead to poor decisions and tension between family members, increases grumpiness and makes one more short tempered and lowers the ability to relate to others.
Solutions to combat sleepiness and fatigue
Increased work demands create a cycle resulting in extended business hours – people are less productive because they’re tired, thus taking work home, only to have it interfere with their sleep and family relationship.
Individuals and the company could play a vital role in providing supportive options to manage fatigue and sleep health. Sleep health promotes an environment that focuses on energy management by improving one’s sleep quality and quantity. Should you feel that your daytime functioning has been affected by poor sleep duration or quality, it is recommended to visit a sleep health professionals for further investigation. Should you not have access to a sleep health professional you are welcome to contact oursleves or visit our sleep clinic.
By Peter Šmanjak (Infinite Risk) and Paula Pienaar (Sleep Scientist from SSISA)