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A new study into the effects of sleep deprivation

So you notice someone looks sleep deprived in the workplace (or maybe even you are feeling like you've not had enough shut eye). How does this impact us and our outputs?

It's pretty safe to say that we'd all guess that attention span would be the first thing to suffer. Bing tired makes it difficult to concentrate, this lowers performance and it many jobs that can be dangerous. So it's a topic that, as people managers, we should be mindful of.

The reason for this post is to share a recent study by researchers in Washington State University in which it was indentified that not only is attention span hit when we sleep less but also our ability to adapt is significantly reduced. 

One to be aware of then? If we can't adapt, how does this affect our ability to make decisions? Is this significant when rolling out and managing change at work?

The article then takes an interesting twist into the subject as a specfic gene is identified which, when present in an individual, reduces the impact of sleep deprivation on adaptability.

All food for thought that I figured would be good to share. Hopefully this one more slice of knowledge you can draw upon when it comes to dealing with employee well being.

In the summary to the article, the nail is hit firmly on the head: "Further insights could potentially yield new ways to deal with sleep deprivation, or help to identify those who might be best for jobs that require workers to go without sleep."

Click here to go to the article on the Discover Magazine website

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Gary is an Online Learning Consultant working at DPG.

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  • This is really interesting Gary - sleep is a topic of conversation in our household often as I tend to struggle with sleep (i.e. I frequently can't get to sleep/stay asleep) and can really suffer the consequences, whereas my husband sleeps well, and often goes with only 4 or 5 hours and functions totally normally too.  Many of us go through periods of sleep deprivation (having babies and young children, personal illness or family illness, stress etc.), i.e. it's all part of normal life - but I would totally agree that some of us are better at managing this than others.  I've often fantasised of a magic pill I could take after a bad night which tricks my body and mind into thinking it has had a restful 8 hours.  My experience is that I can often carry out repetitive and fairly mundane tasks OK with minimal sleep, but that anything 'out of the norm' is much more challenging.  So are we going to be having a 'sleep deprivation test' as part of recruitment for certain jobs then?  I worked in the aviation industry for many years in the area of Human Factors - circadian rhythms and their disruption due to shifts and time zones for pilots and crews is a real challenge - and one where 'super sleepers' would be at a huge advantage.

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