How Does Sleep Deprivation Affect Decision Making in Business?


Time is at a premium for nearly everyone. It might even be one of our most valuable resources we “own”—personally and professionally.

Today, society and even work, seems to operate on a 24-hour schedule. This puts a lot of pressure and tremendous demands on us… mind, body and soul. Such a schedule also limits the hours of sleep per night that we can get. Over time, a lack of sleep can lead to sleep deprivation.

One negative impact of sleep deprivation is that it can cause our brain to not be able to function at is full potential. Furthermore, studies have shown that while a lack of sleep hinders an employee’s ability to perform at peak performance, sleep deprivation also comes with other physical and emotional side effects as well.

Here are some ways a sustained lack of sleep – or sleep deprivation – may impact you and your work:

  1. Sleep Deprivation Means Poorer Performance and Productivity

Healthy adults should get a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night. However, research has revealed that the average adult only gets about 6. That one extra hour of sleep may not seem like much, but it has notable effects in the workplace. Many workers reported deficient performance in the workplace due to tiredness. They also admitted to not being able to stay focused, taking more time for tasks, and finding it difficult to generate innovative ideas.

  1. Sleep Deprivation Impacts Your Physical Health

The physical effects of sleep deprivation can be significant. The most typical symptom is the general fatigued feeling. Various studies have shown a connection between the quality of sleep and quality of physical health. Being deprived of sleep lowers the function of your immune system, which makes you more susceptible to common illnesses. People who get less than 7 hours of sleep are 3 times more likely to develop a cold. More long-term effects include obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

  1. Chronic Tiredness Damages Social, Emotional, and Psychological Well-being

Your feelings and mood are impacted by a lack of sleep. More dramatic psychological effects include paranoia, hallucinations, mania, and memory loss, all of which can affect you on the job. Having interpersonal communication through out the day at work can become difficult if you’re not getting enough sleep, which leads to poor communication and teamwork. Having frayed nerves, being moody, and a lack of focus are additional strains to workplace relations. After all, who isn’t irritable when they’re tired? Other feelings such stress, anxiety, frustration, and lack of optimism are frequently related to the connection between poor sleep and poor mental health too.

  1. Lack of Sleep Has Potentially Dangerous or Disastrous Outcomes

Simple tasks may become more difficult when you’re tired because poor sleep also effects your perception, judgment, reaction time and decision making. Studies have shown that 17 hours of being in the office has similar behavioral changes to drinking 2 glasses of wine. A lack of these cognitive functions can have a huge effect on professionals who rely on “sharpness” as a success factor.

Overall, better sleep is better for your business. Sleep deprivation costs businesses an average of $2,200 a year, per sleep-deprived employee, in lost productivity. Thus, you may consider creating an environment for healthy sleep to reduce these behaviors and costs. You can start to do this by making sure everyone leaves work on time, allowing time for exercise during the work day, and not sending emails after work hours. You may even consider a flexible schedule where people can work during the hours they are most productive, whether they’re night owls or morning larks. In the end, your employees – and the results your company is able to see – will grow with gratitude.