From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Linking Worker Sleep, Stress and Productivity

What’s the number one reason workers in Canada may not be getting enough sleep? According to a poll by Better Sleep Council Canada, the primary cause of sleepless nights for Canadians is work-related stress, with 30 percent of all respondents who say they aren’t sleeping well at night pinpointing their daytime work environments as the cause.

The survey, which found that overall, one-third of all Canadians report an inability to fall asleep at least one night a week, mimicked a study performed by the same group in the United States where respondents also reported stress as their number one reason for losing sleep, although family-concerns caused more stress for Americans than did work stress.

Better Sleep Council Canada notes that losing sleep due to work-related stress can cause a “vicious cycle,” in which the lack of sleep causes even more difficulties coping with the resulting stress. And, notes the organization, the end result of not getting enough nightly sleep can be poor performance on the job during the day as well.

Other surveys have also shown a relationship between lack of sleep and poor work performance, in addition to other issues like a higher incidence of injury and illness. In March, 2004, Circadian Technologies released the results of a survey that showed extended hours workers, who were found to sleep only between 5.1 and 5.5 hours each night, frequently reported back pain and wrist pain, regardless of the nature of their jobs, and that disturbances in the workers’ sleep equated to longer recovery time for the workers’ soft-tissue injuries.

A report by British insurance firm Zurich also found that shift workers were more apt to suffer from depression, be involved in a car accident and have memory lapses. The same study indicated that some workers would even trade pay for a more ergonomic work schedule; seven percent of respondents said they would be willing to take a pay cut if it meant they could work a schedule that better fit their waking, and sleeping, lives.

Sources: BBCNews; Circadian Technologies; Better Sleep Council Canada