A lack of sleep can have significant impacts on our productivity and effectiveness at work. Employees who have good sleep quality and duration tend to perform better at their core work tasks, are more engaged, and are more likely to support colleagues, whereas a lack of sleep can lead to procrastination and unethical behavior such as taking credit for someone else’s work. It can also cause managers to engage in abusive supervision. Sleep is particularly important for higher-level cognitive skills that require self-control and willpower, which is necessary for tasks that are less enjoyable, distracting, or require impulse control.
To counter negative effects of poor sleep on work, employees can try several strategies. Firstly, be strategic about the tasks you work on and avoid tasks that require willpower if possible. If you can’t, schedule them for early in the day when you have more mental energy. Secondly, reconsider your mindset and try to believe that willpower relies on unlimited resources that can be easily recovered. This way, you can avoid the belief that exerting willpower drains your mental energy, making you less likely to exert further willpower. Thirdly, if you can’t change yourself, change your situation. Try to avoid situations that require willpower altogether. Lastly, watch a funny video to counteract the harmful mental effects of work demands that require willpower, and restore your mental energy.
Researchers emphasize the importance of good sleep, and recommendations to improve sleep include refraining from using smartphones before bed. However, from time to time, most of us will still have a bad night, especially if we’re feeling stressed. By being mindful, employees can counter the negative effects of poor sleep and perform effectively at work.