One million workers in sleep-deprived state every day… As many as one million of the working population in the UK are so affected by sleep deprivation when they come to work that it is as if they are intoxicated according to new research.
The study conducted by health experts Vielife – the health and productivity firm that carried out the assessments between 2009 and 2011, examined the habits of 39,000 employees in the British workforce.The results found that one in three workers frequently arrive at work in a condition described as “sleep drunk”, meaning that they have had such a poor night’s sleep that the effects on them are similar to someone who is over the legal limit for drink-driving.The research also showed that at any one time, a massive one million workers or 3.5% of the total workforce in the UK, are estimated to be in a semi-conscious sleep-drunk state.
Sleep experts suggest that seven hours or more sleep a night is recommended to avoid the risks involved with becoming sleep-drunk. The Vielife study calculated that 56% of workers who get between five and seven hours of sleep fall into the high risk category while just 6.25% are at risk when they get between seven and eight hours sleep.
Other findings from the online study included the trend whereby those working regular hours instead of shift work or part-time jobs tended to enjoy longer and better sleep. Those most at risk from disrupted sleep or poor sleep patterns were discovered to be workers who worked long hours, overweight workers and workers who suffered from stress or depression. Women reported a slightly higher rate of frequent poor quality sleep (35%) than men (31%).
“This research is telling us that a large number of working adults, one in three in the UK, has a sleeping problem,” said Dr Tony Massey, medical director of Vielife. “A very concerning number of British workers get too little sleep.”
Britain is near the top of an international league table for sleep deprivation. A Vielife study of 116,452 staff in America found that 23.4% scored poorly for sleep – a significantly lower figure than that for the UK.
“British employers should be very worried about these findings,” said Massey. “Organisations that have employees that sleep better perform better in the marketplace. Staff who sleep badly say they don’t feel good, can nod off at their desk, have trouble concentrating, and are more prone to viruses and infections.”
Massey encouraged more British workers to practise what is known as “sleep hygiene”.
He added: “That involves little things that people can do without professional help, like ensuring your room is dark and quiet, getting to bed at the same time every night – just like a two-year-old – reading a book, which is a proven relaxant, and not looking at bright screens, such as the TV or computer, for an hour before you go to bed as that will disturb your sleep.”