UNEMPLOYMENT / JUL. 19, 2014
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Just 40 Winks Can Cause Job Loss

Do you remember when you could party all night at college and make it to an 8 a.m. class, on time? Those were the good old days, right? Today, you cannot get enough sleep. And although you go to bed relatively early, you are still tired all day at work. In the morning, you head for a cup of Joe only to need another pick-me-up just a few hours later. During meetings, you prick your finger with a pen to avoid falling asleep. And for lunch you chug an energy drink or two. But it still doesn’t matter because by 2 p.m., you are nodding off at your cubicle. Well, you are not alone.

“… It was around 4:30, I was sitting in the area with the manager, a coworker, and another associate,” a reader posted on AskAManager.org. “I guess in one way or another I dozed off in the chair, totally not intentional, just some horrible thing. …”

The reader, who had recently graduated from the University of Florida, had fallen asleep during the first day of her first job in front of her boss. Needless to say, the next day she was fired. Although that was an unusual case, being terminated due to sleeping on job is not uncommon. So unless you are at lunch or have a documented sleeping disorder, you too could be fired.

FOX Business included it among its list of “The 12 Quickest Ways to Get Fired”. And a few years ago, the FAA fired a few air traffic controllers for falling asleep on duty. Hopefully, your situation is not that extreme; and you’re more like other tired workers.

Snoozing in the cube

Chances are you have taken a quick nap or two at your cubicle, especially if you sit in the last row in a back corner. If you have, then take a look around the office because your coworkers are mostly likely nodding off too. According to a recent survey from the Virgin Pulse Institute, an employee health and wellness organization, sleepy workers are causing a decrease in U.S. productivity estimated at $1,967 per employee annually.

Researchers, who surveyed over 1,000 employees from three U.S. companies, found 40 percent of employees doze off during the day once per month with 15 percent of employees saying that they dozed off during the day at least once per week. Others who managed to stay awake (70 percent) reported feeling tired most days of the week.

“Showing up to work sleep deprived can be the equivalent of showing up to work intoxicated,” said Virgin Pulse Institute Director and one of the co-authors of the study Dr. Jennifer Turgiss. “Employees who don’t sleep well have poorer concentration, poorer decision making abilities, are significantly less able to cope with stressful situations, and are more likely to make unhealthy choices.”

A lack of sleep, according to researchers, can lead to serious health issues such as hypertension, diabetes, depression and cancer. Over 30 percent of employees who slept fewer than six hours per day also are more likely to be overweight, researchers found. Outside the workplace, sleepy employees were more likely to cause car accidents while driving home. The question is: why are you so sleepy?

Sleepless at home

There are probably a lot reasons why you are sneaking a quick catnap during work hours. But it’s critical that you determine the root cause before your productivity suffers. More importantly, you do not want your boss to notice.

“ … I’ll be yawning and carrying on and kind of drag for an hour or so before I’m really probably engaged and back doing real performance type of work I would say,” one of the sleepy employees who participated in the study told researchers. “So it will be easy for me to just kind of lag around, drink some coffee, walk around, talk to people, or sit at my desk and read Internet news rather than actually work.”

According to the Virgin Pulse Institute, over 80 percent of sluggish employees reported the bedroom temperature was their most common sleep disruptor followed by over 70 percent reporting issues with their partners. Over 60 percent of tired workers said noise was the culprit; and 52.8 percent blamed bright lights. While bad mattresses and children both kept employees up at night by almost 40 percent, medical issues were only reported by 10 percent of the employees surveyed.

Sleeping beauty

Unless you have an upcoming interview with Google (Google offers nap pods to employees), you should make sure you’re getting enough shuteye at home so that you can be your best at work. One solution is to hit the gym after work. Spend at least an hour doing some cardio on the treadmill, elliptical or bike.

Also try reducing the amounts of soda or coffee that you drink during the day because everyone knows that caffeine can cause insomnia. If one of the above issues is causing you to have some sleepless nights, then it’s probably a good idea to find a solution sooner rather than later. Sleeping at work could cost you your job, which in turn will lead to even more sleepless nights.

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