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Eagle’s Eye View

Eagle's Eye View
May 2, 2024

Catching Zzzz’s: The Connection Between Sleep and Productivity

Eagle Health | Health and Wellness | OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH | Sleep Benefits

Does looking at your to-do list make you instantly tired? (YAWN!) Maybe you feel like you should work longer hours to get everything you need to do done. (YAWN!) You grab another cup of coffee instead and try to do even more to tackle your to-do list. (YAWN!) Then you go to bed and cannot fall asleep because all you can think about are the items you still need to get done. (YAWN!)

The truth is that much of your fatigue during the day, which causes lower productivity, is not because you have too much to do; it may actually be a lack of proper sleep. Your sleep schedule plays a vital role in your productivity during the day. According to the CDC, one in three Americans do not get the recommended seven hours of sleep. Whether poor sleep lasts for one night or many, it’s tempting to simply push through, surviving on sheer will (and caffeine). But that doesn’t mean our ability to be our best selves at work, school, or other areas of our life isn’t suffering.

The Physiology of Sleep

Missing just one good night’s rest may not seem significant, but it impacts our bodies noticeably., but missing several or having a consistent pattern of not sleeping as much on weekdays and then trying to catch up on sleep on the weekend takes a large toll on our bodies. When we don’t get enough sleep, our heart rate goes up, which results in increased cortisol levels, our blood pressure goes up, and we may crave foods that are high in sugar and carbs, which actually exacerbates our fatigue. Another remarkable difference in our bodies as a result of lack of sleep is the lack of focus and attention we may feel. If you are driving a car and lose focus because you are tired, it could be dangerous. If you lose focus at work due to sleeplessness, it could cause lower productivity.

Symptoms of Sleep Deprivation

While the signs of sleep deprivation may seem intuitive, it could be stress or something else.  There are signs which can tell you that you’re dealing with sleep deprivation:

  • You are experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness
  • You notice cognitive effects, such as difficulty concentrating
  • You are having memory issues
  • You notice delayed response times when it comes to physical tasks

According to the National Safety Council, fatigue from a sleep disorder, shift work, and sleep deprivation can increase the likelihood of:

  • Absenteeism
  • Lost productivity
  • Workplace accidents and injuries

The Benefits of Healthy Sleep

Employees spend a large amount of their waking hours at work. There has been a growing trend of employers educating their employees on the benefits of healthy sleep with positive results. There are physical, cognitive, and emotional benefits to getting a good night’s sleep.

Physical – When we get adequate sleep, our bodies feel stronger, our immune systems healthier, our energy increases, and our productivity grows.

Cognitive – For the mind, getting a healthy amount of sleep contributes to better focus, increased engagement at work, and more reliable information retention. Because sleep deprivation affects short—and long-term memory, important and strategic decision-making becomes more challenging when workers operate on minimal sleep.

Emotional—Sleep has many advantages for our moods. Sleep helps employees stay positive, fosters emotional stability, and even reduces their likelihood of acting on negative emotions at work—all key elements to building and maintaining a culture of well-being within an organization.

What Is a Healthy Amount of Sleep?

Most have heard that they need to drink 8 glasses of water a day and get 8 hours of sleep at night to stay healthy. The truth is not as simple. Getting too much sleep can also have a damaging impact on your body and well-being, just as not getting enough sleep.

Experts, sleep scientists, and the CDC recommend that adults get at least seven hours and up to nine hours of restful sleep per night to achieve high work performance in the daytime. Anything less than that is often not enough to be fully rested and mentally alert upon waking.

Encouraging Healthy Sleep Habits for Your Employees

Workplaces that promote flexibility and work-life balance are better positioned to encourage and facilitate healthy sleep habits. While not every business can institute allotted nap times, there are alternative approaches to facilitate educating your workforce about the importance of better sleep. This includes adding sleep education to your wellness programs.

Here are a few other examples of how to support workforces in building healthier sleep habits:

Continuous education on the importance of sleep. When you promote your wellness programs, make sure they include a discussion on the health of sleep. Have resources on had to show employees how poor sleep habits can affect sleep quality while providing helpful tips for optimizing deep sleep REM cycles.

Offices with natural light. According to the CDC, light, temperature, and noise affect an individual’s circadian rhythm. Providing increased exposure to natural sunlight can significantly and positively impact the sleep quality and cognitive function of employees.

Access to water and healthy snack options. Diet and hydration play an integral role in essential bodily and cognitive systems, including sleep. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, providing plenty of options for employees to stay hydrated is one important way to improve sleep quality, cognition, and mood.

Discouraging after-hours working. Enacting policies that help employees unplug after their shifts is a great way to facilitate a healthier sleep pattern. Discouraging after-hours emails and video calls can directly help employees reduce their stress levels in the evening, leading to higher-quality sleep.

How to Improve Your Sleep

If you are someone who has trouble falling asleep or even getting back to sleep, there is hope to improve the quality and quantity of your sleep by making a few changes, such as the following:

  • No screens before bed
  • No carbohydrates or alcohol before bed
  • Prepare for sleep and make a routine
  • Turn down the lights around the house an hour before bed.
  • Change into sleepwear before bed only (sorry, lazy afternoons).
  • Once you’re in bed, read a book and not on your phones or tablets; remember, no screens before bed.
  • If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t turn off your thinking, try meditative yoga.
  • If your partner snores, try earplugs to drown out the noise.

Of course, these suggestions are not the magic cure for sleeplessness, but they may help alleviate some of your sleeplessness.


Employers are beginning to understand that sleep should be part of strategic wellness plans if they want productive employees. There is a direct connection between employee productivity and sleep. Eagle Health encourages companies to foster a focus on healthier, more productive workplaces through education on occupational health topics, such as how sleep directly impacts productivity. What are your thoughts, experiences, and suggestions on the pursuit of sleep and your productivity – feel free to share them as we grow stronger in our pursuit of excellence.

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