Sleep is a vital, but often overlooked area of health that is becoming increasingly important in the work place.
In fields where healthcare providers work longer shifts, take fewer breaks and deal with increasing demands the need for quality rest and physical repair becomes more and more important.
Providing patients with proper medical attention and care begins with the mental, emotional and physical health of the healthcare professionals that serve them.
When a nurse, doctor, physician or healthcare provider isn’t getting enough sleep the effects it can have on their mind and body can have a significant impact on workplace errors, mental/emotional stress, depression, inflammation and opportunities for injuries to occur.
In fact reducing sleep by 1 to 2 hours can have a big impact on cognitive performance and the reduced performance associated with a lack of sleep can significantly outweigh the suggested benefits of “trying” to be more productive.
Despite the additional time you may have to get certain tasks done by sleeping less the increased stress, reduced focus and escalating potential for errors can actually cause you to take longer to complete certain tasks then if you received adequate rest, which would improve your performance and cognitive focus.
The benefits of getting a good nights rest often outweighs the idea that working more and sleeping less will lead to better performance or quicker results.
Here are some of the benefits of getting a good nights rest:
- Reduced stress
- Heightened attention, alertness, focus and cognitive performance
- Improved safety and reduced work related errors/accidents
- Improved physical health
- Improved emotional well-being
- Reduced inflammation
- Decreased depression
Sleep is essential for reducing stress and allows the mind to rest and sort out all of the stresses it faced during the day.
It also allows the body to repair any physical injuries or stresses that were placed on it, so that you can perform at your best when you’re awake.
Not getting enough sleep can increase your mental, emotional and physical stress, and make it harder to effectively complete tasks in the workplace, which can lead to more stress and make it harder to fall asleep later.
In other words stress impacts sleep and sleep impacts stress.
By improving your sleeping habits and making sure you get adequate sleep you can significantly reduce your stress and improve your mental/emotional state and well-being.
Improving alertness and cognitive performance
Being able to focus on your work, listen attentively to those around you and provide good feedback are all necessary components of being able to do a good job.
Reducing your sleep on the other hand will make it difficult to focus on even simple tasks and can lead to significantly more errors, which you’ll have to fix when you finally get enough sleep and become aware of your mistakes.
If you’re really tired it may be better to put certain tasks aside, get some rest and come back to them when you’re refreshed and focused.
Increasing physical health
As a healthcare provider it is common to put a lot of stress on the muscles and joints due to standing and walking for long periods of time, lifting patients and medical equipment, sitting or rotating in uncomfortable positions and managing other work related tasks that require physical exertion.
These physical stresses continue throughout the day requiring the body to rest and repair itself so that it can function properly later on.
Sleep is extremely important for body repair, maintaining a healthy immune system, reducing inflammation and reducing chronic pain.
If you’re physically in pain when you work then you may want to incorporate more sleep and exercise into your day in order to improve your physical condition.
Decreasing depression and anxiety
Depression, self doubt and anxiety can all be impacted by sleep.
While feeling sad or uncertain is a normal and healthy response at times persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness can cause serious issues in the personal/professional areas of life when not managed effectively.
The connection between depression and sleep is complex, however improving sleep and adequate rest can have a significantly positive effect on the mind and body, which can help to reduce stress and depression.
As you can see there are a number of benefits that sleep offers beyond being able to perform better and complete tasks faster.
Improved cognitive abilities, increased health, reduced stress and a better emotional state are all important and can lead to a better life both inside and outside of the workplace.
While staying up for an extra hour or two may seem like its beneficial you may wake up only to find out that you have to spend more time fixing errors you could have avoided if you got more sleep instead of working while you were tired and burned out.
Additionally not getting enough rest can make the next work day even more stressful and reduce your ability to focus on the tasks you have to complete for that day.