Here’s why you should be sleeping with your co-workers (not like that)

Sleeping at work
Photo Credit: IPGGutenbergUKLtd via Credit.com

Would you take a nap at work if your boss allowed it? If you’re like most workers, you could probably use one, but unless you work for one of a handful of companies that actually encourage napping at the office (Ben & Jerry’s, Nike, Google, Zappos, to name a few), chances are you’re just going to have to muddle through with a yawn and another cup of coffee.

Two recent surveys show that American workers aren’t as well-rested as they think they should be — and it’s likely costing both the employees and the firms they work for.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of U.S. workers surveyed by staffing firm Accountemps said they work while tired, with nearly a third (31%) saying they do so very often. Survey respondents, made up of more than 1,000 U.S. office workers aged 18 or older, said they lack focus, are easily distracted, procrastinate more, are grumpy and make more mitakes — whoops, mistakes — when they are tired.

Another survey, this one from Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder, found that more than half of workers (58%) feel they don’t get enough sleep, and 61% say lack of sleep has a negative impact on their work.

More than 3,200 workers across industries in the private sector participated in the nationwide survey, and just 16% said they actually get eight hours of sleep each night. The majority (63%) log an average of six to seven hours each night during the workweek, while 21% average five hours or less. Worst of all? 44% said thinking about work keeps them up at night.

Forty-three percent of respondents said they’d caught someone sleeping at work, so it’s no surprise that 39% said they would take advantage of a designated “nap room” if offered at their place of work.

“Rest is an undervalued necessity these days,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said in a press release. “We see more and more workers check into the office at all hours of the day, give up vacation time and work even when they’re sick. Yet it’s not necessarily making us more productive, and companies are starting to recognize that. We’re starting to see companies put more emphasis on employee wellness and work/life balance – whether it’s providing designated ‘nap rooms’ for employees, encouraging them to take advantage of their vacation time or simply giving them more flexibility in their work schedules.”

Lack of Sleep Is Bad for Business

Sleep deprivation doesn’t just hurt workers – it hurts business, too: 61% of survey respondents said lack of sleep has had an impact on their work in some way. And the workers surveyed in the Accountemps survey admitted to some pretty major mistakes due to lack of sleep, including a $20,000 mistake on a purchase order, the deletion of a project that took 1,000 hours to put together and ordering 500 more computers than were needed.

Productivity is even worse the week after the transition to daylight saving time. (Reminder: don’t forget to set your clocks ahead this weekend). One research study found, per the New York Times.

“…workers tend to ‘cyberloaf’ – that is, they use their computers and internet access to engage in activities that are not related to work – at a substantially higher rate on the Monday following the shift to daylight saving time than on other Mondays. What’s more, we found that for every hour of interrupted sleep the previous night, participants in our lab cyberloafed for 20 percent of their assigned task. When extrapolated to a full day’s work, that would mean daylight saving time and lost sleep can result in substantial productivity losses. In fact, a recent estimate of this effect put the cost to the American economy at over $434 million annually, simply from a subtle shift of the clocks. Unfortunately, we don’t regain that productivity when the fall change adds an hour to our schedules.”

Nap at Your Own Risk

While you may now feel armed with enough data to petition your boss for a “nap room,” it might not be a move any better for your career than getting caught napping. You certainly don’t want to lose hours, get demoted or, worse, get fired.

Without a regular source of income, you face the risk of defaulting on loan obligations, incurring late fees on a slew of bills or worse. Your income isn’t generally listed on your credit report, but your ability to repay a loan is often considered when a lender reviews a credit application. If unemployment prevents you from paying bills, you could see the effects of that in your credit scores and, ultimately, your access to credit products and decent interest rates.You can see how your payment history and debt levels have affected your credit by getting two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.

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