Most people assume that they are getting a healthy amount of sleep. However, research has shown that every year the percentage of sleep-deprived Americans increases. Sleep deprivation has been shown to cause many unhealthy side-effects that, if allowed to affect an individual for an extended period, can bring about a much less fulfilling and successful life both at home and at work. In this paper, I will argue that information regarding the effects of sleep deprivation must be made more available to the public and held in higher regard in the business world.
The term “sleep deprived” refers to an individual who does not get any sleep for at least one night. This paper will be focused on “partial sleep deprivation,” which refers to an individual who sleeps for less than seven hours per night . In order to test the effects of sleep deprivation on different cognitive processes, a study was done comparing a group of subjects undergoing partial sleep deprivation with another group of subjects that received seven hours of sleep per night. All participants in the study were required to take multiple tests at the same time every morning. Those who were sleep deprived performed similarly to those in the control group on the logical reasoning tests, however they performed significantly worse on the innovative and strategic thinking tests.
The sleep deprived were observed to be irritable and incapable of controlling their emotions when compared to those who got enough sleep. These individuals displayed signs of increased hostility, difficulty in holding back from lashing out, and impulsive decision-making. The pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for managing emotions, is thought to be impaired by sleep deprivation which is likely the reason for such behavioral instability. These effects are damaging not only to those directly experiencing them but also to coworkers and family members. A sleep-deprived employee will not be capable of performing to his maximum capacity and will thus not be as beneficial and friendly to his coworkers as he could be. A sleep deprived family member will be more irritable and thus will be more likely to handle complicated family issues and conflicts in a more confrontational manner. Also, the difficulties brought about by sleep deprivation get worse over time.
These effects are discussed more specifically in this video.
The number of hours slept is not the only variable of sleep that has an effect on one’s health and happiness. The time at which people typically wake up also has a strong correlation with their level of success. A study was done in which individuals who sleep the same amount of time per night but who fall asleep and wake up at different times showed that those who go to bed earlier on average earn four to five percent higher incomes than those who go to bed late and wake up late. Thus, being an evening person who goes to bed late and wakes up late in combination with getting less than seven hours of sleep per night could be detrimental to one’s health and success.
The dangerous effects of sleep deprivation are becoming more relevant every year. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the number of Americans who get less than 6 hours of sleep per night has increased from 13 to 20 percent from 1999 to 2009. As Americans work more hours per day on average, they have less time to sleep and thus can become sleep deprived. In fact, the average work week for American workers has increased from forty hours per week to forty-seven in the past decade. Furthermore, it has been proven that both men and women get even less sleep when they have children and a spouse. Due to this, in 2009 a fifth of the American workforce was suffering from sleep deprivation.
In conclusion, more and more Americans are suffering from the harmful effects of sleep deprivation such as decreased self-control, impaired strategic thinking, and irritability. These effects can have a negative impact on one’s life both at work and at home, potentially damaging the potential for many to be successful. Furthermore, the number of Americans affected by sleep deprivation is on a strictly upward trend, meaning every year it becomes more important for individuals to consider the number of hours they can sleep per night when making decisions regarding employment or anything else that involves a significant time commitment. In order to slow or stop the current trend, information regarding the impact on productivity by sleep deprived workers should be made common knowledge among employers.