Have you ever fallen asleep at your desk? Maybe you grab a pen and a piece of paper, rest your chin on one hand and act like you are writing something down with the other. Then you close your eyes with your face turned away just enough to hide it from anyone who may pass by. I've mastered that technique, but I've yet to figure out how to be productive at the same time.

We should be spending about one third of our lives asleep, however, a 2014 survey by the National Sleep Foundation discovered that 45% of adults lacked getting an adequate amount of sleep. Those sleep deprived individuals lost more than two work weeks' worth of productivity during the year. That is almost half of the working population. It is estimated that fatigue-related productivity losses are nearly $400 billion. That is a lot of tired, unproductive employees.

Sleep Less Work More?

Working more does not mean you get more done. You may work 18 hours a day, but you will not accomplish what you could if you were well rested.

In his TEDx Talks, Dr. Matthew Carter says that when science revealed smoking was bad, we (mostly) quit. When science told us sitting was bad, we started getting more physical. We learned what unhealthy diets and alcohol could do to our body, and we cleaned up our act. But that does not ring true for sleep deprivation. For some reason, our western culture treats sleep deprivation as a "badge of honor." Dr. Carter says people look at a tired person and think, "Oh, he must be a hardworking man with a really important job." But most likely, he is working all those hours and getting less done, than if he had adequate sleep.

It's a vicious cycle of lack of sleep, loss of productivity and catching up which causes you to work more hours. It’s a vicious cycle.

Science says that less sleep equals less productivity. A recent study tracked productivity and sleep and quantity and quality in 1,000 participants. The study resulted in the same conclusion as the many before it. Each one of the sleep disturbances, sleep duration, sleepiness, insomnia and snoring were associated with lower productivity.

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Sleeping just six hours a night leads to sleep deprivation and subpar work performance, and it's equivalent to your performance after 48 hours without sleep.

It doesn't seem like much but losing an hour or two of sleep a night for an extended period has long-term, damaging cognitive and physical effects on you.

While you sleep, your brain forms connections that help you process and remember new information as well as repair any damage from the day.

Sleep deprivation can make your heart have to work twice as hard to get blood to your vital organs. The less you sleep the more likely you are to find a permanent home in a cold grave.

"Sleep should be considered an important element in workplace health."

Signs that indicate you are sleep deprived include:

• Excessive sleepiness
• Frequently yawning
• Irritability
• Memory loss
• Inability to concentrate
• Slow reaction time
• Poor decision-making
• Increased accidents

Your immune system also works hard for you while you sleep. It produces protective substances that help fight infection and ward off viruses, helping you stay healthy. When these connections cannot be properly conformed, your body begins to shut down causing the ill effects mentioned above.


Quality of Sleep vs. Quantity - Does Poor Sleep Quality Impact Performance?


Yes, the quality and performance of your work suffers greatly when you are tired. A group of doctors conducted a study (found here) to assess the impact of sleep disturbances on work performance/productivity. The participants are assigned into four categories: insomnia, insufficient sleep syndrome, at-risk, and good sleep.

Compared with at-risk and good-sleep groups, insomnia and insufficient sleep syndrome groups had significantly lower productivity, performance, and safety outcomes. This means that sleep disturbances contribute to employee fatigue and decrease productivity at a high cost to employers.

One disturbance people often don’t realize they have is sleep apnea. How do you treat a problem you don’t know exists? Problems such as insomnia (either when you first go to bed or if you wake up and can't go back to sleep) are easy to diagnose. But what about a more obscure problem such as sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea happens when you are asleep. Your breathing pauses for at least 10 seconds between 5 and 30 times an hour. During this time, your organs do not get enough oxygen and carbon dioxide begins to build up in your body. Your brain notices the lack of oxygen and signals you to take a breath. You wake up enough to take a breath, but not enough to remember waking up. The cycle repeats itself many times an hour all night, making you feel exhausted soon after awakening.

Other symptoms of sleep apnea include:

• Extreme sleepiness during the day
• Waking up with a dry throat or headache
• Frequent awakenings throughout the night
• Difficulty with mood swings
• Trouble concentrating

To diagnose sleep apnea, you will need to do a sleep study. A sleep study is done at home or in a lab, and a diagnosis is made based on how many times you stop breathing during sleep. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, several treatments are available, the most common being the CPAP machine. The CPAP delivers a steady flow of air through a mask or nasal pillow, which keeps your airway open.

How to Get Out of Bed in the Morning - Energetically


Many people don't have sleep disturbances but discover they still can't seem to get moving in the morning, even after a good night's sleep. Waking up feeling sluggish, wishing you could pull the covers back over your head and sleep a little longer, is a wish made by many well-rested people every workday morning.

But you can do a few things to begin energizing yourself as you mentally prepare for work.

9 tips to Try.

  1. Don't hit the snooze - not even once.
  2. Drink a glass of water upon waking
  3. Stretch with yoga
  4. Splash your face with cold water
  5. Eat breakfast
  6. Go outside and soak up some sunshine
  7. Try some cardio
  8. Give yourself something to look forward to, like a Starbucks coffee
  9. Go for a brisk walk

Incorporating some of these into your daily routine will help you determine which will give you the most energy throughout the day. Once you know that, make it a habit to start your day with energy-boosting activities. Because when you feel your best, you give your best.

Contact us

When you partner with Ulliance, our Life Advisor Consultants are always just a phone call away to teach ways to enhance your work/life balance and increase your happiness. The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program can help employees and employers come closer to a state of total well-being.

Investing in the right EAP or Wellness Program to support your employees will help them and help you.  Visit www.ulliance.com, or call 866-648-8326.

The Ulliance Employee Assistance Program can address the
following issues:

• Stress about work or job performance
• Crisis in the workplace
• Conflict resolution at work or in one’s personal life
• Marital or relationship problems
• Child or elder care concerns
• Financial worries
• Mental health problems
• Alcohol/substance abuse
• Grief
• Interpersonal conflicts


Hoffman, A. (2021, March 31). How Sleep Affects Work Productivity. Retrieved from Sleep.org: https://www.sleep.org/sleep-hygiene/sleep-and-productivity-at-work/

J J Pilcher 1, D. R. (1997). Sleep quality versus sleep quantity: relationships between sleep and measures of health, well-being and sleepiness in college students. National Library of Medicine, 583-96. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9226606/

Kemmis, S. (2019, March 7). https://journals.lww.com/joem/Abstract/2010/01000/The_Cost_of_Poor_Sleep__Workplace_Productivity.13.aspx. Retrieved from Zapier: https://zapier.com/blog/sleep-and-productivity/

Rosekind, M. R., Gregory, K. B., Mallis, M. M., Brandt, S. L., Seal, B. P., & Lerner, D. P. (2010). The Cost of Poor Sleep: Workplace Productivity Loss and Associated Costs. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 91-98. Retrieved from https://journals.lww.com/joem/Abstract/2010/01000/The_Cost_of_Poor_Sleep__Workplace_Productivity.13.aspx