How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Your Work Performance

We all miss out on a good night’s sleep from time to time – whether it’s for personal or professional reasons, there are simply nights when we sleep less than we should. And that’s perfectly okay.

But how often do we wonder how this lack of sleep affects our performance at work? What happens if we are consistently not getting enough sleep? How bad is it for the way we do our jobs?

Let’s find out.

When does sleep deprivation set in?

The first thing we need to tackle is the term sleep deprivation.

While most of us believe that we need to be sleeping badly or less than enough for a series of nights for it to truly affect us, the real truth is that as little as one night of poor sleep equals sleep deprivation. Just one night of missed sleep will mess with all kinds of processes in our minds and bodies, and we will experience a whole host of unpleasantness.

Your performance will suffer

Lack of sleep, even if it’s just one night, even if it’s just a couple of hours, can result in subpar performance. As your mind and body struggle to stay awake and keep up with the demands you are putting on them, they will simply not be able to perform as they usually would.

This can lead to all sorts of work-related issues. Namely, your colleagues and superiors might mistakenly believe you are either not focused, uninterested, or simply bad at what you do – none of which is necessarily true, as you are simply sleep-deprived.

Your productivity will suffer

Just like your performance, your productivity will tank when you don’t get enough sleep. You will need more time to perform each task and you will not be able to focus as well, which will naturally translate into not getting as much done.

You may want to overcome this lack of productivity by fueling yourself with caffeine and sugar. And while this may help in the short term, once the effects have worn off, you will feel much worse off than before – and you’ll still be unable to reach your usual levels of productivity.

You will be more irritable

Everyone gets a bit frustrated and stressed at work sometimes. However, when you are sleep-deprived, you will be a lot more emotional and irritable. Naturally, this can lead to conflicts and arguments at work you would not normally enter into.

As a result, you’ll have impaired relationships with your coworkers, which can further damage your performance. Not to mention, you will have an even more difficult time focusing, as your mind is now preoccupied with the argument you’ve just had.

Your decisions will be impaired

Sleep deprivation compromises our judgment and our ability to make sound decisions. In the workplace, this can lead to a whole host of issues, from the simplest mistakes to colossal miscalculations.

A lot of workplace errors can be attributed to sleep deprivation, and even a lot of workplace injuries, because your mind and body are simply not alert or awake like they usually are.

If your job requires you to make a lot of decisions every day, you might want to rethink the way you sleep, as you will soon start to irritate yourself even further with the mistakes you’re making.

Your physical health will suffer

Finally, a consistent lack of sleep can lead to all kinds of physical issues. While this will certainly be hardest on you, your work will also suffer as you are forced to take more days off, your insurance premiums go up, and your company is forced to get someone else to do your work while you are away.

Sleep deprivation is known to mess with the immune system, as well as cause weight gain and potential heart and blood pressure issues. On top of that, it can have an incredibly detrimental effect on your mental health and well-being. So, skipping just one night of sleep for whatever reason might be something you’ll want to reconsider next time.

Final thoughts

Even though we’ve never been taught just how important sleep is for our work performance, we are all somewhat experienced in the matter. We miss out on one good night of sleep and we feel irritable, sluggish, slow, and a bit miserable overall.

Even though the modern work culture often glorifies the hustle, and despite the fact that there are hundreds of influencers and businessmen out there who advocate getting things done no matter the cost, we all need to be smarter than that.

Sleep is one of the main pillars of our health. And the simple truth is, we will get more done if we sleep well than if we forgo sleep to get more done.