Too little sleep can undermine productivity

A lack of sleep will have a harmful and visible impact on your work.

A lack of sleep will have a harmful and visible impact on your work.

Published Apr 10, 2024


Maryanne Isaac, Abdurahmaan Kenny

While not getting the right amount of shut-eye increases our risk of developing a host of physical and mental health disorders, the impact it has on our daily life and job productivity can be just as bad.

In order to do your job effectively and be at your optimum, you should be looking and feeling your best. Sleep deprivation can lead to increased stress, irritability, difficulty concentrating, memory issues, depression and anxiety, as well as a weakened immune system.

Over time, these effects can contribute to the development or exacerbation of insomnia.

Feeling tired or fatigued during work hours may lead to performance issues at work, which could potentially result in mistakes. Sleep deprivation can affect your ability to focus on completing your daily tasks and goals, as well as your energy level throughout the day.

Even if you take five trips to the coffee machine or try to hide the bags under your eyes with makeup every morning, a lack of sleep will have a harmful – and visible – impact on your work.

According to, if you are someone who usually sleeps for eight hours a night, then every two hours lost can have a severe impact on your performance the following day.

Effective strategies

Here are seven ways to address sleep deprivation – and restore lost workplace productivity.

Establish a consistent sleep schedule:

Maintain a regular sleep routine by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock.

Create a relaxing bedtime routine:

When you get home from work, try to switch off from your job. Develop pre-sleep rituals that signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.

This may also include drinking a cup of soothing herbal tea such as green tea or chamomile, reading a book, taking a warm bath, and practicing relaxation techniques.

Optimise your sleep environment:

Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep. Put away your laptop and work files. Keep the room cool, dark and quiet. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows.

Limit stimulants and coffee:

Reduce or eliminate caffeine and nicotine, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.

Regular exercise:

Engage in regular physical activity before or after work, but try to avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime as it can be stimulating. Exercising during the day is one of the best ways to promote better sleep.

Mindfulness and relaxation techniques:

Practices like mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation or guided imagery can calm the mind and body –making it easier to fall asleep.

Seek professional help:

In some cases, a doctor might prescribe short-term medication such as a sedative or hypnotic. Most pharmaceutical remedies have a timed-release formulation and work by slowing activity in the brain to help patients fall asleep and stay asleep.

However, these medications should be a last resort, and must only be used under medical supervision.

Cape Times

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