Home>Health & Wellbeing>General Health & Wellbeing>Work stress results in sleep loss

Work stress results in sleep loss

29 August 2018

STUDIES SHOW that workers in the UK and US are getting less than the recommended amount of sleep – both clocking up an average of 6.8 hours to be exact – which can negatively impact everything from people's performance at work to physical and mental health.

Having studied how career stress affects nightly rest in both countries, here are the key findings:

  • The annual cost of a lack of sleep to the UK economy is £40bn ($53.2bn) while this figure reaches £310bn ($411bn) in the US.

  • This is due to a huge loss in working days – 200,000 in the UK and 1.2m in the US – plus the lowered productivity of those who do make it in.

  • London ranks 3rd in the UK for work-related sleep loss

  • Adding 1 extra hour of sleep per night could boost your wages by 5%.

  • UK workers put in an average of 42 hours per week (8.5 per day) while those in the US work for 44 hours (9 per day).

  • Almost 75% of Brits sleep less than 7 hours per night (Royal Society for Public Health) while 65% of Americans get 7 hours or less (Gallup poll).

Any form of stress has severely negative consequences on your sleep patterns. Unsurprisingly, work-related anxiety is one of the leading causes of the national snooze shortage. Here are the locations in the UK and US which reported the highest job stress levels which directly relates to a lack of sleep.

The figures above are from a 2018 study from employee incentive provider, Perkbox, that showed the top 10 most stressed-out areas in the UK due to work. This kind of anxiety has a hugely detrimental effect on sleep patterns so it’s no wonder that 65% of Brits cite work as the cause of their lack of nightly rest.

Needless to say, losing sleep every night can have negative consequences. It doesn't just affect your work performance - but also on your overall wellbeing. A large part of the stress causing this sleep shortfall is the hours we all work. Long working hours leaves little time for work/life balance.

Let’s take a look at how the UK and US compared to the often-celebrated employment hours of the EU.

Research conducted by the University of California has found that by increasing the amount of sleep you get by 1 hour a night (assuming you’re getting less than the required amount) you could increase your wage by as much as 5%.

This may seem too good to be true but, when you consider the negative aspects of poor sleep…

…it’s clear to see why an extra 60 minutes of shuteye could dramatically improve your performance at work. Unfortunately, this proves to be a bit of a paradox as it’s the stresses of work that keep many of us from achieving the recommended amount of sleep in the first place.

On the opposite side of the coin, a Sleep Council study of UK workers has shown that people who earn more tend to get a longer, better-quality night’s sleep.

A lack of sleep won’t just hit you in the pocket. A study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that sleeping for 6 hours a night for 14 nights (as opposed to regularly getting 8 hours) caused ‘cognitive performance issues’ equivalent to having two full nights of total sleep deprivation.

With most signs pointing towards work-related stress being the cause of many people’s problems getting shuteye, perhaps it’s time for companies on both sides of the pond to address the sleep crisis.