Drunk at work without the smell of alcohol

We all know drinking on the job is a no-no, but did you know that lack of sleep can be equivalent to a blood alcohol content level of 0.1%.  As Greg McKeown describes in his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,

We would never say “This person is a great worker!  He’s drunk all the time!” yet we continue to celebrate people who sacrifice sleep for work.

Sleep impacts everything

Charles Czeisler at Harvard has studied sleep and its affects on performance.  They are dramatic.  As stated above it is equivalent to being drunk.  Our ability to focus, to operate equipment, reaction time and much more is impacted when we don’t get enough sleep.  What’s not enough? 7-8 hours per night.  Getting just 5-6 hours of sleep is enough to turn on the effects of sleep deprivation.

What this got to do with work

We often celebrate that someone pulled an all-night’r or traveled to and from the ends of the country and still came in the next day.  While this may make us feel strong and better than our peers, what it is really doing is taking a toll on productivity, incident rates and the peaceful work environment.

It affects our body’s ability to regulate our temperature and stay hydrated when we work outdoors (heat illness). It affects our mind’s eye when it comes to following safety rules or reacting to incidents in the work place.

What to do

Review your training programs. Make sure that you talk about sleep and its affects on the body and work productivity when you do training.  Review your policies.  Do you have prohibitions about coming in after staying in the office until 3am?  School board meetings are notorious for going late in the evening.  What about travel policies which provide time off after being away for some time?   Research some of Professor Charles Czeisler’s studies on sleep, you will be amazed.



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