Why Sleep Deprivation Is a Productivity Nightmare

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Apart from major accidents caused by sleep deprivation like the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, lack of sleep has serious negative effects on productivity. Yet, you might still neglect sleep and work days on end, thinking that you’re staying productive by sleeping less. You might not realize the dangers, but if sleep-deprived, you’ll not only jeopardize your health but also become inefficient. Before we take a look at why insufficient sleep ruins your productivity, let’s first discuss the true meaning of sleep deprivation.

What Is Sleep Deprivation?

According to the National Sleep Foundation, the Victoria department of health, and other reliable sources, the meaning of sleep deprivation is getting inadequate sleep cumulatively. While this depends on the quality as well, they focus on the number of hours a person gets. Each recommends getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night because it’s easier to maintain consistency for most people.

Others can go for alternative types of sleep patterns, as long as they stay consistent to get quality sleep.

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Yet, at the end of the day, you’ll find three main stages of sleep deprivation:

  • Mild deprivation: This could be missing sleep in 24 hours. It’ll likely make you feel tired, but you can manage to stay productive.
  • Acute deprivation: In this stage, you’ve been awake for 36 hours. You’ll start dozing off for a few minutes, and sleep deprivation effects will start intensely kicking in.
  • Extreme deprivation: Missing sleep for 48 hours or more is simply a recipe for disaster. You begin having hallucinations and no amount of caffeine will be able to kickstart your productivity.

Generally, sleep deprivation doesn’t have to be lacking sleep completely. It also includes staying awake for long stretches, having short naps, or poor quality snoozes. At the end of the day, you’ll be sleep-deprived, and your productivity will suffer.

Sleep Deprivation Affects on Productivity

The following are reasons you should desire and ensure you have adequate, quality sleep.

1. Makes you susceptible to distraction

Sleep deprivation research reveals that if you get inadequate sleep, you’ll be easily distracted from your physical as well as mental tasks. This is due to the decreased functional connectivity between the prefrontal cognitive control region and the amygdala.

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When you’re distracted, you can’t activate one of the most essential elements of the productive mindset: focus. You’ll be unable to concentrate on the task at hand, rendering you unproductive.

2. Degrades your performance

According to a sleep deprivation article by two scientists, Paula Alhola and Päivi Polo-Kantola, lack of sleep impairs cognitive performance, which in turn affects even physical functionality. It leads to poor short-term as well as long-term memory, plus slow processing speeds – both a recipe for productivity disaster.

Many others support this fact, explaining why many accidents happen when people are sleep deprived. From frequent errors to premature decision fatigue, it’ll be difficult to perform your best when you don’t get enough sleep.

3. Promotes microsleep episodes

Microsleep episodes are seconds of unintended sleep that inevitably happen when you’re sleep-deprived. While you may want to continue working on that deadline, you feel like lying down and from time to time, you shut your eyes for a few seconds only to snap back to wakefulness moments later.

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Unfortunately, this will take a toll on your productivity, lengthening the number of hours you have to work, yet not guaranteeing your best results. And even worse, you’ll rarely remember these microsleeps, which make it dangerous when dealing with sensitive tasks, such as driving.

4. Leads to unintentional mood changes

Sleep interruption makes most of us moody. But sleep deprivation makes it even worse. Even sleeping as little as 4 to 5 hours a day cumulatively can disturb your moods adversely.

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If you get insufficient sleep, you’re likely to easily get angry, frustrated, irritated, and sad, and experience all kinds of crankiness. In fact, sleeplessness is often a catalyst for developing mood disorders like anxiety and depression. The moodiness cannot be good for any type of productivity.

5. Makes you a poor communicator

Sleep deprivation and excessive drinking have similar effects. Since you can’t coordinate your brain properly, are easily distracted, and have mood swings, communicating with others becomes hard. Commonly, your inhibitions lower as well, making you less sensitive to other people’s feelings and your own.

Unfortunately, poor communication kills productivity whether in an office or when remote working. It limits your ability to get constructive resources, support, and feedback for working smarter and living better. Therefore, learn how to get a good night’s sleep organically and improve productivity.

6. Promotes poor health

There’s no shortage of studies linking good sleep and proper health. From your mental to physical well-being, sleep takes care of it all. You might remember a time when you battled the flu by sleeping. I know I do.

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And we all know how staying healthy boosts our productivity. Your energy levels are usually so high that you can tackle a difficult task unbelievably quickly, with the right focus. Sleep-health is a cycle you should keep operating as much as you can.

Wrapping Up

By now, you probably understand sleep deprivation effects on productivity. To do your best during any day requires you to sleep well. In the spirit of understanding sleep and productivity better, you may want to check out how waking up early can improve your health.

Do you think you’re sleep-deprived? Which of the above productivity disadvantages have you noticed in your life? Share with us in the comment section!

Ade Kiseu

Ade is a health & wellness freelance writer for individuals as well as organizations mainly in the mental health industry. She loves exploring self-improvement, practicing smarter ways of working and living.