Dealing with Sleep Deprivation on the Job
Every day in the United States, the consequences of sleep deprivation chip away at the already degraded health and workplace productivity of millions of exhausted Americans. Unfortunately, most tuckered out employees -- and employers -- fail to recognize the difference between coping with sleep deprivation and actually treating it.
According to the 2003 National Commission on Sleep Disorders, sleep deprivation costs $150 billion annually in expenses related to employee health care and reduced worker productivity. Don't, however, be fooled into thinking that large corporations and bustling factories are the most common culprits of sleep deprivation for America's weary workforce. In reality, small business owners and employees often endure the longest and most detrimental bouts of sleep deprivation.
Although there are many physical and emotional factors that influence sleep deprivation, there are just as many underutilized steps that can be taken to mitigate the impact of this far too common phenomenon.
The Bedroom Is Not The Office
For many, sleep deprivation can be curbed by setting clear boundaries between a place of work and a place of rest. While it is often impossible to avoid bringing your work home (especially if you run your small business from your house), your bedroom should -- at all times -- be off limits to work. All too often a laptop, files, and other work related materials can easily trail you into a cozy bed where the workaholic logic says one can both rest and work at the same time. Regrettably, however, once a psychological correlation between workplace pressures and the most comfortable spot in your home is made, the bedroom can no longer exist as a safe haven for restful slumber.
Sleep Deprivation Isn't Shameful
Often compounding the problem of sleep deprivation is the tendency to mask or otherwise conceal the problem from others. While many attempt to shield their exhaustion for fear of appearing weak or unsuited for their job, those who openly discussed their restless or inadequate sleep routinely find support from colleagues and co-workers -- many of whom suffer from sleep deprivation as well. Even though support groups are commonly not thought of when discussing sleep deprivation, the power of having a support system at home, work, or both should never be underestimated.
Make Time for Yourself
"If you don't make time to be well," the old adage maintains, "you better make time to be sick." Even though sleep deprivation results from an obvious lack of length in sleep sessions, shorter periods of sleep can actually prove more restful if they are preceded by as little as 15 minutes of personal time before bed. Settling into an undistracted routine of "me time" can do more to ward off morning fatigue than even some prescription sleep aids.
Waking Up to a Harsh Reality
Simply coping with sleep deprivation doesn't mean you're proactively treating it. Whether your approach to the matter is as simple as a hot shower before bed, or as drastic as changing careers, dozing off to the dangers of sleep deprivation is a serious mistake no one can afford to make.
Michael Essany is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.