Make us your home page
Instagram

Career Coach: What you do at night says a lot about how you'll do in the day

iStockphoto

iStockphoto

How did you sleep last night? Did you get your full seven-plus hours of restful shut-eye and spring out of bed this morning, ready to take on the day? Your employer hopes so.

For companies, employees not getting enough sleep creates conflict between productivity and worker well-being. Companies have demands and time pressures. But individuals also need to stay healthy and alert. Sleep plays a big part in how well individuals contribute to an organization's goals.

According a recent report from the RAND Corporation, sleep deprivation costs U.S. firms 1.2 million employee work days and roughly $411 billion in revenue a year. That knocks an estimated 2.28 percent off the nation's gross domestic product each year.

Some industries understand how critical well-rested employees are. Take the airline industry, for example, where worker fatigue can be a life-or-death issue and is therefore regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. But barring federal mandates on Americans' sleep, it would behoove many industries and employers to encourage workers to get more of it.

Lack of high-quality sleep has been linked to greater anxiety and depression, and lower levels of employee productivity. But the opposite is also true — and varies by individual — so getting more sleep can enhance productivity at work and when you're more productive, you might sleep better.

There's also a causal connection between sleep and employee and managerial behaviors. In studies, workers in sleep-deprived experimental groups behaved less ethically, and leaders in experimental groups with lower sleep quality were found to be less inspiring at work.

So how can you get better sleep to positively impact your job performance? Here are some tips:

Break the cycle: Stress at work can keep you up at night, lowering your productivity during the day and piling on more stress at work. Talk to your supervisor about your workload and stress levels at work and do what you can to focus on better sleep at home.

Quality vs. quantity: Sleep quantity is easier to manage than sleep quality, but both are important. There's been quite a bit of research on the two. Overall, the research suggests that quality is more important. Good quality sleep translates to less anxiety and depression.

Establish a sleep routine: You need a create a sleep ritual. Give yourself a "bedtime" and stick to it every day. Avoid caffeine late in the day and pay attention to what you eat and drink. Power down — research shows that TV and use of electronic devices interfere with sleep. Don't check your work email right before you nod off — that can keep you awake even longer.

Grab shut-eye when you can: Another research stream shows workers' sleep patterns improve when companies empower them to decide how and when to get their work done. It's part of the reason why some companies allow telework, flexible shifts and the occasional in-office nap. Your company may not go as far as resource-rich firms that have really embraced that strategy, even equipping offices with futuristic-looking sleep pods. But that doesn't mean you can't talk to your manager about a more flexible schedule — so long as it can be given and allows you to stay productive.

Try exercise: According to research, regular exercise can counter the negative effects of sleep deprivation. Take advantage if your company offers workplace fitness equipment, subsidized gym memberships, or other fitness programs.

Turn to technology: Though unplugging can be an important part of a healthy sleep routine, technology can help you track your sleep patterns and establish better routines. Widely used fitness-tracker devices, apps and even your smartphone can help measure the amount of sleep you get and remind you when to hit the hay for the night.

There's no single solution: Effective regimens vary individually. Generally, there are different ways to balance this productivity/well-being trade-off. A key to this is to have a corporate culture that promotes some level of control for workers to facilitate a healthier balance between well-being and productivity. But starting tonight, you can make your own efforts to get better sleep — for your health and your career.

Gilad Chen is a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, and editor of Journal of Applied Psychology. He teaches courses on a variety of organizational behavior, human resource management and methodological topics. His research focuses on work motivation, adaptation, teams and leadership.

Career Coach: What you do at night says a lot about how you'll do in the day 04/20/17 [Last modified: Thursday, April 20, 2017 10:47am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. HQ2 watch: As deadline looms for Amazon headquarters pitch, one metro bows out

    Business

    If there's one national business saga to keep up on these days, it's the frenzy by metropolitan areas — including Tampa Bay — to make their best pitches to Amazon in the hope of being chosen as the new location for the giant online retailer's second massive headquarters. HQ2, as it is called, would create …

    Cities across the country are trying to land Amazon's second headquarters, known as HQ2. In Birmingham, Ala., giant Amazon boxes were constructed and placed around the city as part of its "Bring A to B" campaign. [Ali Clark/Bring A to B Campaign]
  2. Shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations rebound from stronger earnings report

    Corporate

    TAMPA — After a sharp drop in its stock price in August and September, Health Insurance Innovations on Monday announced strong revenue and net income gains in preliminary numbers for its third quarter of the year. The company also announced a $50 million stock buyback over the next two years meant to bolster its …

    After losing more than half its market value between August and September, shares in Tampa's Health Insurance Innovations are rebounding."The new share repurchase program underscores our confidence in our business strategy, financial performance, and the long-term prospects of our company while also allowing us the financial flexibility to continue to invest in our business," company CEO Gavin Southwell announced Monday. [Courtesy of LinkedIn]
  3. Trigaux: Campaign aims to leverage tourism ads to recruit millennials, businesses

    Economic Development

    TAMPA — Tampa Bay's unleashing one of its best weapons — a cadre of successful entrepreneurs and young business leaders — in a marketing campaign already under way but officially …

    Erin Meagher, founder of Tampa coconut oil products company Beneficial Blends, is part of a group of business savvy millennial entrepreneurs and managers who are helping to pitch the work-live-play merits of the Tampa Bay market in a new marketing campaign called Make It Tampa Bay. The campaign is backed by Visit Tampa Bay and the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corp. and aimed at recruiting more millennial talent to relocate and stay in the Tampa Bay area. [Courtesy Tampa Hillsborough EDC, Visit Tampa Bay]
  4. Florida gas prices drop 25 cents on average over past month

    Autos

    Gas prices are on a downward tear post-hurricane. Tampa Bay fell to $2.34 per gallon on Sunday, down 10 cents over the week, according to AAA, The Auto Club Group. Across the state, gas fell 7 cents over the same period to average $2.47 per gallon.

    Gas prices across the state fell 25 cents over 31 days. | [Times file photo]
  5. Entrepreneur expands interests with Twisted Crafts

    Business

    SOUTH TAMPA — Playgrounds of Tampa owner Mike Addabbo is expanding into the do-it-yourself industry with his new endeavor: Twisted Crafts.

     Jennifer and Michael Addabbo pose in their latest entrepreneurial enterprise: Twisted Crafts. Photo courtesy of Twisted Craft.