This Friday, is world sleep day, and two weeks later some 1.5 billion people will participate in an exercise which will likely result in them getting one hour less sleep than usual. The shift to daylight savings time. If you’re in the US you did this last week. The next day there will be a spike in the number of heart attacks recorded in hospitals, this is a known phenomenon which occurs every year, and is matched with an inverse effect in the Autumn. 

Given that we will likely spend over a third of our lives asleep, it is perhaps unsurprising that it has a significant impact on our health. In actual fact, when I read about this topic in Matthew Walker’s excellent book, what becomes surprising is how little we have been paying attention to the implications of sleep deprivation on our mental and physical performance, as well as our general health. If you sleep less than is recommended you are more likely to be overweight; be or become diabetic; you are more likely to suffer from a heart attack; crash your car; have a bad memory; and even possibly have fertility issues. The list goes seemingly on forever. 

Our ability to perform even basic tasks, like driving a car or playing sports is severely impacted by sleep deprivation. We now also know that it goes further, making us struggle to retain information or complete complex mental operations. So why in so many industries and societies is lack of sleep still worn as a badge of honour? In the last 20 or so years a new breed of company has started to grow, from google’s well documented ‘nap pods’ to Nike’s flexible working hours aimed at accommodating different body-clocks, perceptions are beginning to change. Hopefully we are now at peak tiredness and we are beginning to wake up 😉 to the risks of not getting enough sleep. Along with presenteeism being responsible for the unwanted and unnecessary spread of the flu-viruses throughout organisations, sleep deprivation makes good people do bad work, and sometimes also become sick.

Why We Sleep: The New Science of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

We are trying to make sure that our company respects our bodies’ needs. Which is why unless there is a super-immovable commitment we expect people to arrive in the morning when they are rested and ready to roll. If you think you’re going to be arriving to work on the 1st of April exhausted because of an even shorter than usual sleep, why don’t you ask your boss if you can come in a little later? You’ll quite possibly do a better job, you could even promise to arrive early when the clocks go back in the Autumn.

How do you sleep at night? Keeping tech out of the bedroom and listening to white noise on repeat seem to be effective solutions for many people, what are your top tips for getting a good night’s sleep? Does getting a good night’s sleep give you an edge at work, or do you not notice a difference?