Sleep Routine

Losing just 16 minutes of sleep could be the difference between a clear-headed day at the office or one filled with distractions. A new study published in the Sleep Health (Journal of the National Sleep Foundation) finds shorting your sleep routine during the work-week greatly interferes with job performance. University of South Florida researchers found workers are more likely to have poor judgement and fall off-task the next day.

Consequence of daytime experiences

Sleep can be both an antecedent and a consequence of daytime experiences. Previous studies report bidirectional associations between sleep and daily stressors and negative mood.1,2 Cognitive interference; so the experience of intrusive, unwanted, off-task, and potentially ruminative thoughts; so is relate to the experience of daily stress.3 The links between sleep and stress and between stress and cognitive interference are well established.

However, there is a relative lack of observational research examining the relationship between sleep and cognitive interference; so particularly in a relatively healthy sample of workers at midlife. Experimental studies in the laboratory observe effects of acute sleep deprivation on degrad performance in cognitive tests and vigilant attention. However, they know little about how middle-age workers; hence who are particularly vulnerable to insufficient or poor sleep.

Lead author Soomi Lee, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Aging Studies; also her colleagues survey 130 healthy employees who work in Information Technology and have at least one school-age child. Participants report that when they slept 16 minutes less than usual and had worse quality sleep; so they experienced more cognitive issues the next day. That raise their stress levels, especially regarding issues related to work-life balance; hence resulting in them going to bed earlier and waking up earlier due to fatigue.

Cyclical associations reflect

These cyclical associations reflect that employees’ sleep is vulnerable to daily cognitive stress and also a contributor to cognitively stressful experiences,” said Lee. “Findings from this study provide empirical evidence for why workplaces need to make more efforts to promote their employees’ sleep.

Good sleepers may be better performers at work due to greater ability to stay focused an on-task with fewer errors and interpersonal conflicts. Researchers also compared work-days to weekends. They conclude the consequences of less sleep is not as apparent when one has the next day off from work.

This study reports that employees’ poorer sleep predicts and is predicted by more cognitive; so interference especially on work days. Shorter sleep duration, poorer sleep quality, and earlier wake times predicted experiencing more intrusive; so off-task thoughts the next work day that may interfere with focusing on job tasks. More cognitive interference on a given day, in turn; so also predicted going to bed earlier and waking up earlier than usual potentially due to stress and fatigue.
Depending on what they measure in participants’ sleep, prediction and directionality in relation to daily experiences may differ, and overall this study finds bidirectional associations between sleep and daily cognitive interference. Findings from this study provide empirical evidence for why workplaces need to make more efforts to promote their employees’ sleep. Good sleepers may be better performers at work due to greater ability to stay focused and on-task, with fewer errors and interpersonal conflicts.