From The Ergoweb® Learning Center

Productivity Drops for Tired Travelers

If workers don’t seem to be as productive on the road as they are at home, it could be that they’re suffering from “first-night effect,” or just an overall need for more, and better, sleep while on the road.

According to Atlanta sleep expert Michael Breus, lab studies have shown that people tend to get less sleep on the first night in a new location than the they do on subsequent nights. In an interview with Reuters, Breus noted that the cause of the sleeplessness for business travelers is an “on-call effect” that disrupts the traveler’s sleep due to jitters and worries about the dreaded wake-up call.

According to an article on MSNBC, $45 billion dollars each year is lost in the United States due to sleep deprivation from sources including decreased worker productivity, increased health problems and associated bills, and traffic accidents. In 1997, the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) determined that sleeplessness-induced diminished productivity alone was costing American businesses $18 billion annually. In the same NSF poll, approximately two-thirds of all workers believed that their own sleeplessness was affecting their job performance particularly with regards to their ability to handle stressful situations, decision making and problem solving.

Hoping to lure the road weary business travelers, hotel chains have taken note of the problems associated with travel sleeplessness and are making ergonomic changes and additions to better fit their customers’ needs. Now, along with amenities like fast internet connections and “ergonomic chairs,” hotel chains are also promoting sleep-friendly rooms.

Crowne Plaza hotels have changed lighting, drapery, linens and added sleep kits with earplugs and eye masks to better accommodate the business traveler, in addition to designating a floor in each hotel as a “quiet zone” on weekday nights. Hilton Hotels offer similar amenities in their “Sleep Tight” rooms: guests are greeted with earplugs, eye masks, a clock that awakens them with simulated sunrise, and soothing sound machines to relax the traveler and help him or her get a good night’s sleep.

Sources: MSNBC; Reuters; Ergonomics Today; The Ergonomics Report.