We’ve already taken a look at how you’re at an immediate disadvantage when trying to operate in a sleep-deprived state. Let’s see just how much of an impact a lack of sleep can have on your daily performance.
Unsurprisingly, failing to get enough rest will have a detrimental effect on your performance and productivity levels. This is most commonly an issue at work.
HULT international business school recently carried out extensive research on the impact of sleep deprivation at work. Their findings showed an alarming correlation between not getting enough sleep and the negative effect on productivity and accuracy levels.
The National Sleep Foundation also found professionals will spend an average of 4.5 hours a week doing work from home in the evenings. Ironically, this extra work might be contributing to people being more active at night, making it harder to sleep. These missed sleeping hours then make productivity the next day lower, forcing more work to be done at home.
The ability to be creative and tackle problems head-on will also be hindered if you’ve failed to get enough rest. Thinking on the spot is substantially harder when you haven’t had the rest and relaxation you need to recharge your batteries.
Arguably the most dangerous thing someone can do on a lack of sleep is drive a car. With reaction times impeded and judgments skewed, taking to the roads when tired can have a disastrous impact on the lives of both yourself, your passengers and other road users.
A recent study conducted by Time4Sleep perfectly highlighted just why getting behind the wheel when tired is such a bad idea. They took identical triplets and exposed them to varying levels of sleep – before assessing their abilities on the road the next day.
They were measured for reaction times, lane departures, and seconds spent outside their own lane on a specialist "fatigue alert" system.
The results spoke for themselves:
Triplet 1 (Robert) – This triplet received a full, healthy night’s sleep and made no errors when it came to reaction time. He set off no fatigue alerts, departed lanes 30 times and spent just 39 seconds out of his own lane.
Triplet 2 (Steven) – Having been given a night of disrupted sleep, Steven made a whopping 10 mistakes when it came to missed reactions. He set off four fatigue alerts, departed lanes 58 times and spent 100 seconds outside his own lane.
Triplet 3 (Patrick) – Patrick drove on no sleep at all. He only missed 5 reactions – but set off 12 fatigue alerts, departed lanes 188 times and spent 386 seconds outside the lane he was meant to stay in.
The results show a clear pattern. The less sleep a person gets, the more difficult it becomes to drive safely. It was also interesting to note that even triplet 2 was impacted by getting a disrupted night’s sleep – something common amongst most people.
There are a number of factors which can directly contribute to a poor sleep pattern. These range from what you’re doing directly before bed, to your hours of sleep. Let’s explore some of them.
Metabolism - As we’ve already seen, the body will boost the levels of leptin when it receives more sleep. The opposite is true when you fail to get enough. At this point, the body releases ghrelin – a chemical which increases your appetite and makes you feel hungrier. In other words, the less sleep you get, the hungrier you’ll feel.
Muscle and Bone Repair - After a heavy workout session, it’s natural for bones and particularly muscles to be damaged. Muscles become larger by being torn, before growing back bigger and stronger than ever. The majority of this regrowth occurs during sleep – with a growth hormone released during this period. The less sleep you get, the less time the body has to recover. This will also impede future workout sessions.
Psychological Effect - It’s a vicious cycle when it comes to sleep and exercise. You’re bound to feel less motivated if you don’t get enough sleep. Naturally, this will have a negative impact on your abilities to push yourself on the workout itself. You may not feel like you want to do any activity at all.
Skills - You’ll perform to a much lower standard than you’d normally expect of yourself. Reaction times and concentrations levels (key assets for any sportsperson) will suffer on a lack of sleep. This is true from amateur levels to experienced professionals.
You’re going to notice a significant difference in your motivation, recovery and performance levels when you miss out on sleep. If you have an important day of activities ahead, make sure you always get the right amount of rest the evening before.