A good night’s sleep is widely underrated despite study after study that links sleep deprivation with poor judgment and performance on the job. A new report from Japan adds to the pile. It shows that employers who ignore the problem are throwing money down the drain.
The study, widely reported in the media in June, surveyed 3,075 employees of a chemical company in Osaka. Factoring in salary levels, researchers questioned the employees’ sleeping habits and alertness over a one month period during work hours or while driving. The results showed the workers were sleep deprived and that their efficiency was reduced by as much as 40 percent. This led to frequent accidents, lateness and absenteeism that cost Japan 3.5 trillion yen (US $30.7 billion) a year, mainly in lost productivity.
According to an article about the report by Agence France Press (AFP), lack of sleep is part of Japan’s corporate culture. The Japanese vocabulary includes the word “karoshi,” or death from overwork.
“Many people think that if you sleep less you will have more time to work (and be more productive) but that is a total misconception,” report author Makoto Uchiyama, professor of Psychology and Mental Health at Nihon University, told AFP.
The agency cites Japanese labor ministry figures that show Japan’s annual working hours per person are among the highest in the developed world