Employers’ Vested Interest In Employee Sleep Health

A business that overlooks the importance of minimizing stress is shooting themselves in the foot. The negative fallout from stress in an employee’s life permeates their work and home life. Many of the relationships are bi-directional because the problem causing the stress is made worse by the effects of stress. The bi-directional relationship can lead to downward spirals when stress increases. I usually focus on cognitive solutions to stress because they are the gold standard for stress reduction. However, I don’t want to ignore other factors that make reducing stress an uphill battle, even when you practice gold standard stress management skills every day.

Sleep deprivation is one of those factors because it affects work performance, mood, behavior, relationships, health, and increase the risk of accidents. Since sleep deprivation affects 35 – 40% of the population, the bottom line at most companies is adversely affected because some of their employees are sleep deprived.

Overview—Why Sleep is Critical

We erroneously treat many things as if the choices are either one or the other. Good or evil, healthy or unhealthy, positive work environment or toxic work environment, happy or sad, and right or wrong. The list of either/or scenarios we use when we perceive reality might be endless. The problem is that the more our knowledge expands, the more areas of grey we become aware of. The paradigm of either/or belongs in the past with the concept of win/lose. The goal is win-win. Or, in some cases, when many factors interact, our choices are win-win-win-win-win-win or lose-lose-lose-lose-lose-lose. Sleep is one such situation. The detrimental effects of sleep deprivation are significant and pervasive.

Well-Rested Employee when compared to a Partially or Completely Sleep-Deprived EmployeePartially or Completely Sleep-Deprived employee when compared to a Well-Rested Employee
·      Better productivity

§  Less absenteeism

·      Better physical health

§  Cardiac, diabetes

·      Better mental health

·      Less accident prone

·      Better Mood

§  Less easily irritated

§  Less incivility

·      Better relationships at home and work

§  More empathy

·      Decreased stress

·      Decreased risk of obesity

·      Increased cognitive abilities

§  Increased ability to focus

§  Better conflict resolution abilities

§  Better decision-making


·      Worse productivity

§  More absenteeism

·      Worse physical health

§  Cardiac, diabetes

·      Worse mental health

·      More accident prone

·      Worse Mood

§  More easily irritated

§  More incivility

·      Worse relationships at home and work

§  Less empathy

·      Increased stress

·      Increased risk of obesity

·      Reduced cognitive abilities

§  Reduced ability to focus

§  Worse conflict resolution abilities

§  Worse decision-making



§  Employee

§  Employee’s family

§  Employee’s co-workers

§  Employee’s boss

§  Customers

§  Stockholders

§  Community

§  Society


§  Employee

§  Employee’s family

§  Employee’s co-workers

§  Employee’s boss

§  Customers

§  Stockholders

§  Community

§  Society

Sleep Deprivation and Work Performance

Sleep, like stress, has a bi-directional relationship with work outcomes that have a major impact on the success employers achieve. When an employee’s quality or quantity of sleep is poor, their work performance deteriorates. Poor sleep quality creates downward spirals that can be fed (worsened) by a variety of factors.

A well-regarded study of 1,932 individuals by Pilcher and Allen concluded that sleep deprivation, including partial sleep deprivation, has “a significant effect on human functioning.” They found that “sleep deprivation has a substantial effect on mood and motor and cognitive performance. And, second, partial sleep deprivation has a greater negative effect on mood and cognition” than full sleep deprivation.

Full sleep deprivation refers to missing an entire night of sleep. Partial sleep deprivation is inadequate sleep—usually over a period of time.

The ability to think, move in a coordinated way, and maintain one’s emotional equilibrium are all important to effectiveness at work. Decrements in these areas decrease productivity and can cause negative outcomes that go far beyond not meeting established goals. I’ll save just how bad those negative outcomes have been for a bit later.

When an employee is sleep deprived, it has a negative impact on cognitive functions involving memory, attention, and decision-making. The ability to sustain attention is significantly affected by sleep deprivation. The ability to focus consistently can be severely affected when someone hasn’t had adequate sleep. Sleep detriments have adverse consequences. People are required to make important decisions at work. If the person is making important decisions about the direction of a company’s future, how to navigate around foul weather with a plane full of passengers or a ship full of oil, or how to respond to an alarm in the control room of a nuclear power plant, sleep deprivation puts the company at risk.


Jeanine Joy, Ph.D.
Jeanine Joy, Ph.D.
WORLD CHANGER, International Speaker, and Trainer – Dr. Joy stepped up to do everything she could to help humanity thrive more after she discovered that she could help to improve societal problems by empowering people to manage their mindset, develop psychological flexibility, and use their innate emotional guidance. She began studying the genesis of human thriving in 1995 and as her knowledge grew she became a thought leader and educator. The evidence-based techniques she teaches and writes about create improvements in physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral health. Her approach has a direct, positive effect on crime, violence, relationships, racism, educational outcomes, suicide prevention, employee engagement, happiness, career success, and more. She focuses on solutions that are both affordable and scalable because she wants to help everyone have a greater opportunity to achieve their dreams and goals. As the owner of Happiness 1st Institute, a Thrive More Now Company, Jeanine speaks internationally and provides training to organizations through her empowering, practical, and usable techniques that target the root causes of human thriving. She is recognized as a bridge builder who creates bridges by translating jargon-laden research into usable information with practical examples that help individuals fulfill more of their potential.

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