Imagine a time when you were sure you were up for that big promotion at work. You put in all the extra hours, went the extra mile to help the entire team, and showed that you’re ready for the challenge. Yet when your boss calls you in for the big talk, they tell you that you seem so worn down and exhausted, and they’re not sure you can handle the new workload that comes with the promotion. What went wrong here? It could be that while you were vying for the new role you forgot to get your precious zzzs. If this sounds like a familiar scenario, read on to see how you can maximize your sleep hours while still getting in the extra time at work so you can snag that next promotion.
The Average Worker’s Sleep Stats
It’s not only working those extra hours that can take away from your sleep. Sometimes it’s the very work itself. If you work something other than a consistent, weekday 9AM to 5 PM routine, you would fall under the category of a “non-traditional” worker who works on a shift work schedule. Shift workers currently make up 29 percent of the American workforce. For those millions of firefighters, air-traffic controllers, and hospital physicians, getting enough high-quality sleep is a particular challenge.
If you’re a woman, you’re also likely to find sleep a rare commodity. According to the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau, women today make up nearly half of the workforce, and many women are the primary breadwinners for their families. In fact, between 1920 and 2012, women went from representing 21 percent of the U.S. workforce to 47 percent. This growth has meant major positive social change over the past several decades, including the significant increase in women’s education levels and earning potential. But for many, being a working mother means you have increased demands and expectations on your time. Like many, you may be making up for your time at work by cutting back on sleep.
How Sleep Impacts your Work Life
If you’re cutting your sleep hours and getting poor quality sleep, it can be a major issue in the workplace. Sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in errors, decreased productivity, and accidents that can cost resources or even lives, depending on the job. Not getting quality sleep – whether for short or prolonged periods – has a significant effect on your ability to function, including impaired reaction time, judgment, and vision. If you’re staying up late to try to get ahead at work, it might backfire, and you may instead experience:
- Frequent sleepiness
- Nodding off at meetings or while driving
- Difficulty with concentration
- Lapses in memory
- Poor job performance
- Mood changes, such as being more snappy and irritable, none of which make you an excellent candidate for a promotion.
How to Revitalize Your Sleep Routine
Though it may sound like a daunting task, there are some easy things you can do to meet social and familial obligations, balance employment, and still get the sleep that your body needs to function each day. If you’re a shift worker, we’ve got some tips to help you maximize sleep during your off hours.
Take a Nap. Twenty minutes of sleep can do wonders for you. Napping at work is slowly becoming an accepted practice, especially for medical workers who are pulling long shifts.
Stick to a schedule. Routine is important to your sleep and overall health so go to bed and get up at the same time every day, even on weekends and days off. If your work schedule fluctuates, speak to your boss about avoiding the dreaded back-to-back night shift/morning shift schedule. Take any scheduled breaks that you have and use them to rest.
Get your family involved. Opting to spend time with your family can cut into hours of sleep, but working out a compromise can help you have your cake and eat it too. For example, mom sleeps from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the family has dinner together at 6 p.m.
Control the noise. Trying to sleep when almost everyone else is awake can be difficult because of the daytime noise. Invest in earplugs or try using a fan to help block out any outside noise.
Cross over to the dark side. Like noise, light can be a real sleep stealer. Make sure your bedroom (or nap room) is nice and dark. An eye mask is an inexpensive solution that can be used at night or while you nap.
Don’t worry! You can start gunning for that big promotion by making sure to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. In a month, you’ll be more than ready to step into your boss’ office and accept that new position.