Sleep Deprivation Harms Your Work Place



The summer heatwave has given some of us a bad night’s sleep. Not only can a lack of ‘shut eye’ be harmful to our health but work colleagues around us.

Sleep. 8 hours a night is what we should be getting. Less than six is the British average. And now with hot nights in play (yes, it has been a while) it is harder for us to get at least 3! Many hot countries have those ugly air conditioning units outside their windows yet the only reason is so resident’s can sleep.

For us Brit’s there has been no need for an A/C unit and let’s face it fans just make such a noise you might as well sleep beside a hovercraft. OK so we have the coffee to keep us awake but are we kidding ourselves? Not only is it dangerous to have a lack of sleep (driving, operating heavy machinery) but it can affect the people around us…without us knowing.

Patty Tucker is a sleep expert spelling out the three ways that sleep deprivation can harm our colleagues.

1. Learning, Memory, and Critical Problem Solving

Sleep takes place in different stages, including REM sleep, or dreaming sleep. A full seven or eight hours of normal sleep should be enough to rejuvenate the mind and body.

“In the first four hours of an eight-hour sleep, we spend more time in slow-wave sleep, when we get most of our hormonal balancing, tissue repair and physical replenishment,” says sleep expect Patty Tucker. “It’s not until the second half of a full night’s sleep that our brain functions get priority. Memory and learning are consolidated during REM sleep. Very good studies from Stanford, the University of Chicago and others show that learning consolidation requires a full night of sleep.”

Sleep deprivation was found to have been a significant factor in the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island–as well as at the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl. Investigations into the grounding of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker, plus the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, also found that sleep deprivation among those managing the operations played a role in those accidents.


2. Ethical Decision Making

“Studies have proven that ethical decision making is changed by sleep deprivation,” says Patty Tucker. “In general, sleep deprived people are unable to understand the nuances required to make fair decisions. Their responses tend to be more rigid and inflexible.”

A study out of Duke University found that sleep-deprived individuals tended to make choices that emphasized monetary gain. It’s why “sleep deprivation makes gambling more tempting for many people,” said Scott Huettel, PhD, a co-author of the study and an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. “Late-night gamblers are fighting more than just the unfavorable odds of gambling machines–they’re fighting a sleep-deprived brain’s tendency to implicitly seek gains while discounting the impact of potential losses,” said Vinod Venkatraman, the study’s lead author.

3. Creativity and Innovation 

“Dreams [during REM sleep] spark innovation through out-of-the-world thinking. In the process they help you create a world on your own terms,” according to Yatin J. Patel, M.D., author of Sleep Well, Lead Well.

All sorts of “‘aha’ moments have occurred during REM sleep,” says Tucker. There are plenty of examples in the world of pop culture to prove it. Paul McCartney, for example, has explained he wrote the great Beatles song “Yesterday” after awaking from a dream while living in a London flat: “I had a piano by my bed. I woke up one morning with a lovely tune in my head … I went to the piano and found the chords to it … It came to me in a dream.”

The great golfer Jack Nicklaus said years ago that he dreamed about a way to fix his club swing — while thriller writer Stephen King has said the inspiration for his book Misery came to him in a dream … or maybe that was a nightmare.

Before you hit the sack on a hot and sticky night here’s our Toca Tips:

1. Avoid hot drinks such as coffee. The caffeine has a habit of making the blood pressure higher and it will take longer to get to sleep. Drinks such as herbal tea or room temperature water will help

2. Do some mild exercise. Yes, it will be hard work but even a brisk walk will hopefully make you tired

3. Eat earlier. Grabbing the evening meal before 6pm will help with the digestion and not make it so heavy on the stomach

4. Wear less. Who is going to walk in on you?! We won’t. We always knock/call first.

5. Grab a cool shower before bed. An obvious one but not too cold as this may trigger off metabolism and trick the body into ‘waking up’.

At Town or Country we always pride ourselves on giving you a good nights sleep – so if you need us, call. We’d be more than happy to help.


(Ben Glover)


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