Work and Wellbeing · 17 October 2017

Work-related stress becomes biggest driver of sleep deprivation among employees

Over one in four UK workers feel exhausted on a daily basis due to poor sleep
Over one in four UK workers feel exhausted on a daily basis due to poor sleep

Over three-quarters of UK workers believe a bad night’s sleep causes their performance at work to suffer, according to new findings that indicate just how damaging sleep deprivation can be to office productivity and morale.

The study, by job site CV-Library, explored the causes and consequences of sleep deprivation among a sample of 1,300 British employees to discover a worryingly prominent link between workplace stress, poor sleep and the health and wellbeing of the workforce.

Almost three in four respondents cited workplace stress as the cause of their poor sleeping patterns, while a further 92.5 per cent admitted stress-related disrupted sleep consequently hurt their emotional well-being.

Meanwhile, at least one in four UK workers are likely to feel “exhausted” on a daily basis due to their inability to sleep properly.

A majority of respondents wanted to get between seven and eight hours sleep a night, but just a quarter were able to achieve this. Subsequently, workers were unable to focus properly or deal with challenging situations effectively.

It wasn’t just staff members suffering from stress-related sleep deprivation. Managers and employers were least likely to sleep well at night, as well as being the most likely to cite workplace stress as the cause of bad sleep.

Professor Jim Horne, one of the study’s authors, detailed some of the effects of sleep deprivation on workplace productivity.

“Most work situations require individuals to make critical decisions, remain focused and complete tasks within a timely and efficient manner,” he explained.

“However, it’s clear from these findings that sleep loss can impair attention to detail amongst workers. The longer a person is awake, the more likely their mood is to be negatively affected, as well as their willingness to take risks in the workplace. Again, this could be cause for concern.”

Commenting on the findings, Lee Biggins, founder of CV-Library, said while the negative feelings that follow a poor night’s sleep would be familiar to most people, sleep deprivation could severely impact a company’s bottom line if not dealt with properly.

“There are many factors that can affect your performance at work and I’m sure we’re all familiar with the negative feelings that can follow a bad night’s sleep,” Biggins said.

“While this is manageable every now and again, it can quickly become all-consuming if not dealt with properly and it’s concerning to learn that many workers aren’t sleeping well because of workplace stress.”

Biggins suggested employers could support staff by allowing them to work from home at times of stress, or taking earlier lunch breaks when staff could use some fresh air.

Our Health and Wellbeing hub is helping employers take a proactive approach to staff welfare, bringing together expert advice with shared experiences from small business owners who have put their employees front and centre.

For more information on supporting the health and wellbeing of your employees, visit AXA PPC Healthcare

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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