Career Woman

How lack of sleep is affecting your career


You already know that good sleep is required for good health.  But, exactly how much is sleep, or lack of sleep, affecting your career or your business?  If your career depends on your ability to function at a high level, it’s possible that inadequate sleep is holding you back, professionally.

Sleeplessness epidemic

Many Australians don’t get enough sleep or don’t get enough quality sleep.  A Sleep Health Foundation study conducted by Deloitte Access Economics was released last month with some alarming results.  The study claimed that 40% of Australians frequently suffered from inadequate sleep in the last year.  This equates to a staggering 7.4 million people who are too tired to do their jobs properly.

Gender also appears to play a role in sleep problems.  Women are significantly more likely to have difficulty falling asleep at night than men.  They are also more likely to wake up feeling unrefreshed and irritable, even if they sleep for the same amount of time as a man.  A worrying 13% of women admitted to having fallen asleep at work in the past month.

The cost of inadequate sleep

This sleeplessness epidemic is costing the economy millions every year.  The cost of inadequate sleep in Australia totalled approximately $66.3 billion last financial year.  Lack of sleep is responsible for reduced chance of employment, early retirement, and even exit from the workforce due to illness or death.  Therefore, inadequate sleep is not only affecting you, it’s affecting your business and by extension the Australian economy.

What happens when you don’t sleep

Being tired has a similar impact on your body to being intoxicated.  An Australian study has shown that being awake for 17 hours has the same effect on a person as 2 standard drinks and 24 hours awake is the same as downing 4 drinks.  If you are too tired to drive safely, you cannot be performing at your best work.

Concentration and learning

Lack of sleep can alter your ability to comprehend things properly in the work environment.  Inadequate sleep directly affects your ability to concentrate and learn.  Memory and learning are solidified during sleep and without adequate sleep long-term memory can be impaired.  Rosemary Haefner from CareerBuilder, pointed out that ”lack of sleep undermines performance and can create a vicious cycle of working more hours to compensate for diminished productivity and having less time to sleep.”


It is no shock that motivation levels are directly influenced by your sleep.  In a recent survey 16% of Americans admitted that a lack of sleep has made them unmotivated at work.  Needing more sleep is responsible for absenteeism as well as lack of productivity in the workplace stemming from a lack of motivation.  And let’s face it, your career is going nowhere if you’re too tired to care.

Emotional intelligence

Sleeplessness can also affect your ability to display emotional intelligence.  This means that you may not be projecting the confidence you wish you were in that important meeting.  It could also translate into a lack of empathy for your colleagues or business associates which is sure to strain your working relationships.  People that are tired are more likely to be impatient, irritable and even aggressive with others.


Your capacity to access risk and anticipate consequences can also be influenced by sleep deprivation.  Decision-making, problem-solving and your ability to think of innovative solutions to business challenges are all at risk when you don’t get adequate sleep.  So, if you are consistently burning the candle at both ends you may find yourself making risky business decisions that don’t pay off.


Multi-tasking is another high level cognitive function that is hampered by a lack of sleep.  If you run your own business then multi-tasking is crucial to your livelihood, and if you are a working mum then multi-tasking is part of the job description.  When you’re tired and can’t focus properly on the variety of things that need your attention things start to slip through the cracks and mistakes happen.

There is no escaping that your sleep routine is directly linked to your productivity and that’s without even considering the detrimental consequences that inadequate sleep can have on you physical and mental health.  In this fast-paced, 24/7 business society it is hard to get the right amount of quality sleep.  However, you need to invest in your sleep health if you want to further your career.  So, make your goal for today to look at your sleeping habits and sleep environment and set about improving the amount and the quality of sleep that you are getting.

About Alicia Potts

Alicia Potts is a Sydney mother-of-two who is passionate about helping people realise the value of sleep. She is the founder and owner of The Deep Sleep Co . Australia’s guide to sleep products and services. The Deep Sleep Co. showcases the best sleep products available in Australia and New Zealand. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ to stay up to date with sleep technology in Australia.

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