Corporate White Paper
One in three professionals in the UK suffers from poor sleep, getting on average between 5.78 and 6.83 hours per night – well below the 8 hours recommended by the NHS to reap the full benefits of rest.[i][ii][iii]
The consequences of sleep deprivation can be harmful for both workers and their employers. Through lower productivity and higher absence caused by fatigue, in fact, sleep-deprived workers cost the British economy as much as £40bn per year, roughly 1.86% of the country’s GDP.[iv][v][vi]
Sleep in Britain
In a survey conducted among workers across the country, one in three employees reported having – or being at high risk of developing – a sleeping problem. Only 15.5% of respondents admitted feeling refreshed upon waking up, highlighting a concerning issue pervading the working population.
According to experts, a widespread performance organizational culture which sees presenteeism and long hours as a badge of honor is the culprit of the sleep epidemic affecting the British workforce.[vii]
People in the UK work the longest hours if compared to other countries in the EU, with an average of 42 per week versus 37 in Denmark and 39 in Ireland, the Netherlands, France and Sweden.[viii] 20% of workers, moreover, work 7.5 hours of unpaid overtime per week on average, with London being the most overworked city (24.4%) in the country.[ix]
Sleep during Covid-19
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has worsened Britain’s sleep patterns, with 1 in 4 people suffering from insomnia (up from 1 in 6 before the crisis) as a result of disruption in social and working lives.
Research carried out by King’s College London found that 60% of the population experienced disturbed or reduced sleep since the lockdown was announced, with 2 in 5 respondents sleeping fewer hours than usual.[x] Women and mothers have been put at a greater disadvantage, widening the disparity in sleep deprivation among genders: the percentage of those experiencing poor sleep rose from 18.9% to 31.8%, compared to 16.5% for their male counterparts.[xi]
Consequences of fatigue
Sleep deprivation and work performance
In Britain, 74% of poor sleepers admit they struggle to be productive (vs. 27% of those without a sleep problem), and 62% find it hard to concentrate (vs. 17%).[xii]
Fatigue has been found to negatively affect cognitive and psychomotor performance, resulting in impaired decision making and reduced alertness.[xiii] Specifically, studies have found that individuals sleeping less than 6 hours a night for over a period of two weeks perform as poorly as someone who has been sleep deprived for 48 hours, as their memory and concentration are compromised.[xiv]
According to office workers taking part in a survey by the US National Sleep Foundation, inadequate sleep makes it harder to read business documents for at least 1h before feeling sleepy (68%), take on additional tasks at the end of a regular work day (66%), listen carefully to others (62%) and produce quality work to the best of their ability (61%).[xv][xvi]
In addition to undermining productivity through reduced performance, sleep deprivation also leads to excess absence and increased risk of workplace accidents, costing companies roughly £1383 per employee per year.[xvii] Further, job satisfaction as well as career progression have been found to be negatively impacted by poor sleep quality.[xviii][xix]
Sleep deprivation and mental health
In the past few years, Britain has witnessed a surge in mental health issues with an increase in anxiety, stress and depression among the population. In England, 1 in 4 adults experience a mental health problem every year, and 1 in 6 in any given week. A report commissioned by the British government found that 15% of people at work have symptoms of an existing mental health.
condition which, between reduced productivity, sickness absence and staff turnover, cost employers £33bn-£42bn per year.[xx] In 2019, 17.9 million working days were lost due to poor mental health.[xxi]
Lack of sleep has been identified as one of the main contributors to the mental health crisis afflicting the UK, with adults reporting increased feelings of stress and overwhelm (42%), irritability (43%) and anxiety (35%) due to poor sleep. Sleep deprivation sets the stage for negative thinking and emotional vulnerability: when the ability to sleep 8 hours a night is impaired, mood changes are more frequent, and emotional regulation is disrupted.[xxii]
Poor sleepers have been found to be 7 times more likely to feel helpless and 5 times more likely to feel alone, compared to those getting enough rest.[xxiii] For individuals with pre-existing mental health issues, lack of sleep can be particularly dangerous as it lowers the threshold for suicidal thoughts and behaviors.[xxiv][xxv]
Short Rest Benefits
While working from home, 1 in 3 people picked up a new habit: a daily nap. With no external pressure to stay awake, individuals have become more conscious of their need to rest, and have experienced the great benefits of napping for their energy level and productivity.[xxvi]
Short rest has been proven effective in mitigating the consequences of a lack of sleep. Studies have found brief naps (<30 minutes) to improve alertness (+54%) and cognitive performance (+34%) for a period up to 3 hours, with greater benefits experienced by those who regularly nap.[xxvii][xxviii][xxix][xxx]
Similarly, increased attention to detail and decision-making proficiency have been measured, as well as improvement in memory and learning; following a short nap, information retrieval has been found to increase five-fold.[xxxi][xxxii] Moreover, naps are more effective than caffeine – which is often consumed for its stimulant properties – in improving performance.[xxxiii]
The effects on mental wellbeing and mood have also been explored. Napping for as little as 10 minutes improves mental state by increasing feelings of relaxation and joy while reducing sadness.[xxxiv] Moreover, short rest reduces impulsivity and promotes tolerance for frustration, fostering higher emotion regulation.[xxxv]
Finally, naps help relieve stress even after a disrupted night’s sleep.[xxxvi]
Podtime Sleep Pods
Corporations are progressively waking up to the detrimental effects of a lack of sleep, and are increasingly adopting rest solutions to promote healthier habits for their employees.
Podtime supports organizations in a wide range of sectors by providing sleep pod equipment that can be part of improving wellbeing in the workplace. Our pods represents an innovative solution which allows businesses to convert virtually any space into a rest area.
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[ii] Why lack of sleep is bad for your health. (2018).
[iii] Campbell, D. (2012). Chronic lack of sleep affects one in three.
[iv] Hope, K. (2016). ‘Sleep deprivation ‘costs UK £40bn a year‘.
[v],[vi] Campbell, D. (2018). Britons told to get a good night’s sleep.
[vii] Jones, A. (2019). British workers put in longest hours in EU, study finds.
[viii] WAKE UP WELL: ENGLAND’S MOST SLEEP-DEPRIVED REGIONS. (2021).
[ix] Duffy, B. (2021). How the UK is sleeping under lockdown.
[x]Campbell, D. (2020). Coronavirus lockdown caused sharp increase of insomnia in UK.
[xi] Great British Sleep Survey. (2012).
[xii] Smith-Coggins, R., Rosekind, M., Hurd, S., & Buccino, K. (1994). Relationship of day versus night sleep to physician performance and mood. Annals Of Emergency Medicine, 24(5), 928-934.
[xiii] Van Dongen, H., Maislin, G., Mullington, J., & Dinges, D. (2003). The Cumulative Cost of Additional Wakefulness: Dose-Response Effects on Neurobehavioral Functions and Sleep Physiology From Chronic Sleep Restriction and Total Sleep Deprivation. Sleep, 26(2), 117-126.
[xiv] 2008 SLEEP IN AMERICA POLL. (2008).
[xv] Kucharczyk, E., Morgan, K., & Hall, A. (2012). The occupational impact of sleep quality and insomnia symptoms. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 16(6), 547-559.
[xvi] Rosekind, M., Gregory, K., Mallis, M., Brandt, S., Seal, B., & Lerner, D. (2010). The Cost of Poor Sleep: Workplace Productivity Loss and Associated Costs. Journal Of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 52(1), 91-98.
[xvii] Kucharczyk, E., Morgan, K., & Hall, A. (2012). The occupational impact of sleep quality and insomnia symptoms. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 16(6), 547-559.
[xviii] Farmer, P., & Stevenson, D. (2017). Thriving at Work: The Independent Review of Mental Health and Employers.
[xix] Work-related stress, anxiety or depression statistics in Great Britain, 2020. (2020).
[xx] Zohar, D., Tzischinsky, O., Epstein, R. and Lavie, P. (2005). The Effects of Sleep Loss on Medical Residents’ Emotional Reactions to Work Events: a Cognitive-Energy Model. Sleep, 28(1), 47-54.
[xxi] Great British Sleep Survey (2012).
[xxii] Harvard Health (2009). Sleep And Mental Health.
[xxiii] Richter, R. (2015). Among teens, sleep deprivation an epidemic.
[xxiv] Morris, K. (2020). Survey: A Surprising Amount Of People Are Napping At Work.
[xxv] Lovato, N., & Lack, L. (2010). The effects of napping on cognitive functioning. Progress In Brain Research, 155-166.
[xxvi] Dhand, R., & Sohal, H. (2007). Good sleep, bad sleep! The role of daytime naps in healthy adults. Current Opinion In Internal Medicine, 6(1), 91-94.
[xxvii] Tietzel, A., & Lack, L. (2002), The recuperative value of brief and ultra-brief naps on alertness and cognitive performance. Journal of Sleep Research. 11, 213-218.
[xxviii] Stilwell, B. (2019). Here’s what NASA says is the perfect length for a power nap.
[xxix] Smith-Coggins R, Rosekind MR, Hurd S, Buccino KR. (1994). Relationship of day versus night sleep to physician performance and mood. Annals of Emergency Medicine. 24(5), 928-934.
[xxx] Studte, S., Bridger, E., & Mecklinger, A. (2015). Nap sleep preserves associative but not item memory performance. Neurobiology Of Learning And Memory, 120, 84-93.
[xxxi] Mednick, S., Cai, D., Kanady, J., & Drummond, S. (2008). Comparing the benefits of caffeine, naps and placebo on verbal, motor and perceptual memory. Behavioural Brain Research, 193(1), 79-86.
[xxxii] Luo, Z., & Inoue, S. (2000). A short daytime nap modulates levels of emotions objectively evaluated by the emotion spectrum analysis method. Psychiatry And Clinical Neurosciences, 54(2), 207-212.
[xxxiii] Goldschmied, J., Cheng, P., Kemp, K., Caccamo, L., Roberts, J., & Deldin, P. (2015). Napping to modulate frustration and impulsivity: A pilot study. Personality And Individual Differences, 86, 164-167.
[xxxiv] Faraut, B., Nakib, S., Drogou, C., Elbaz, M., Sauvet, F., De Bandt, J., & Léger, D. (2015). Napping Reverses the Salivary Interleukin-6 and Urinary Norepinephrine Changes Induced by Sleep Restriction. The Journal Of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 100(3), E416-E426.