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Why Sleep Matters for Team Performance (and 5 Tips for getting more)

The collective amount of sleep you team are getting could be affecting their productivity and performance.




Let’s start with a question. How much sleep do you average per night?

If it’s less than seven hours, then you are probably depriving your body of essential recovery time and it could be impacting your performance at work. If you work in a team of chronic ‘under-sleepers’, then your collective performance may be compromised.


Would you skip a shower every day for a month?

We now know that nearly half of the adult populations of the U.S. and the U.K. do not get enough sleep and the results can often play out at work – to the detriment of team performance and morale.

Sleep is essential because our body does most of its restorative work during our sleeping hours. Take your morning routine as a comparison point. Each day, most people will get up, have a shower, brush their teeth and hair, and other bits of bodily maintenance that keep us fit for presentation to the wider world.

When we are asleep, our body is doing the internal maintenance – tissue growth and repairing any damage from a day of exercise, stress, poor diet or smoking. We now also know that sleep is the only time the brain flushes out the build-up of harmful amyloid plaques linked with Alzheimer’s.

Imagine if you were cutting short your morning routine – maybe a week or month without brushing your teeth or having a shower? If you were to skip out that routine consistently over a number of years, the outcome doesn’t bear thinking of!

The same is true for skimping on sleep – you may not notice the effects day by day, but over time sleep deprivation takes its toll.


Sleep Deprivation Affects Performance at Work

Just missing an hour of sleep per night can, over time, lead to issues. Studies have shown that poor sleep can have worrying effects on work performance, including:

– Reduced inclination to interact with co-workers (bye-bye collaboration!) – Increased likelihood to have issues with the organisation – Raised levels of impatience – Impaired decision making – Increased presenteeism and boredom at work – Accidents at work


Put Sleep on Your To-Do List

One of the key messages we try to land during our resilience workshops is to value, protect and prioritise proper sleep. Forget the Margaret Thatcher and Donald Trump approach to sleep. Surviving on four hours a night is just that – surviving. Successful businesses and their employees need to thrive, not just survive.

Striking the right balance of motivation and the ability to deal easily with unforeseen challenges is the definition of workplace resilience. Having a good night’s sleep is fundamental to building resilience to stress.


Start your new commitment to a good night’s sleep with these 5 top tips:


  1. Avoid alcohol in the evenings. Alcohol can delay the body’s ability to switch into recovery mode, reducing your ability to get good quality sleep.

  2. Ban screens from the bedroom. Blue light from mobiles, tablets and the TV interferes with our natural circadian rhythm and the sleep hormone, melatonin. Power down at least 45 minutes before bed and keep mobiles out of the bedroom.

  3. Opt for more gentle workouts in the early evening. Physical exertion can help us build resilience, but high intensity workouts keep the nervous system activated for a number of hours and can delay recovery during sleep.

  4. Practice mindfulness or gratitude. If worries or rumination keep your mind from switching off at night, schedule in 15 minutes of mindfulness or a gratitude exercise before bed – jot down the three things you are grateful for and three things that went well during the day.

  5. Avoid too much caffeine and sugar. Both are stimulants and can interfere with blood sugar balance. Drops in blood sugar can result in the release of stress hormones which keep us awake.


Could sleep be affecting your team’s performance?

Get in touch to find out how we can help improve your teams physical and mental performance at work.