Is Sleep Apnea Weighing Down Your Team?s Performance? – we

Is Sleep Apnea Weighing Down Your Team?s Performance?

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Is Sleep Apnea Weighing Down Your Team?s Performance?

Individuals suffering from sleep apnea or obstructive sleep apnea have trouble falling asleep and achieving sound sleep; both of which can have a detrimental impact on the performance of employees and even their safety. Sleep-related performance failures were the leading causes in some of the most disastrous workplace accidents in history such as the nuclear reactor meltdown at Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez oil tanker spill and the Union Carbide tragedy in Bhopal, India.

In a 2001 study titled Sleep Disorders Create Growing Opportunities for Hospitals, the cost of absenteeism, lost productivity and workplace accidents that arise from sleep loss was estimated to be around $150 billion per annum in the USA. When looking at the impact of sleep apnea and obstructive sleep apnea on productivity levels in India, a Philips Sleep Survey revealed that 11% of Indians call in sick due to a lack of sleep.

As these studies clearly demonstrate, a lack of sleep has a negative impact at work. Sleep Apnea is one of the main reasons for lack of sleep in a lot of people. Here is what you should know about sleep apnea and how it can affect performance at work.

According to a 2003 study conducted by the National Institute of Health, more than 12 million Americans have sleep apnea and 90% of this figure has obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA occurs when the individual stops breathing for up to 30 seconds. This results in the person never completing a full cycle of sleep leading to significant daytime drowsiness. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to the following problems at work:

  1. Unscheduled Absenteeism: Individuals suffering from sleep apnea may not get restful sleep and therefore try to expel more energy to keep up with the demands of work. Overtime, this lack of sleep urges the body to catch up on sleep, leading to exhaustion and irritability. The employee may take unnecessary sick days just to get some sleep. Lack of sleep makes individuals more susceptible to illnesses such as the cold and flu viruses. This can also lead to the employee taking more sick days.

  2. Poor workplace performance: Lack of quality sleep has negative impact on workplace performance. It affects the quality of work produced and also leads to poor working relationships, not to mention low productivity. When the brain is deprived from quality sleep and sufficient quantity of sleep, memory lapses occurs leading to an inability to concentrate, learn or communicate.

  3. May cause workplace accidents: Sleep apnea has been implicated in many workplace-related accidents. A poor quality of sleep decreases the employee's ability to solve problems and stay alert. If the job entails using heavy machinery, then the likelihood of sustaining occupational injuries is significantly higher. The employee may also accidentally injure another co-worker.

  4. Poor workplace relationships: A sleep deprived individual has mood fluctuations and is therefore less tolerant of others opinions, making these individual more susceptible to reactionary outbursts. The quality of workplace relationships has a significant impact on an organization. Poor workplace relationships lead to job dissatisfaction and inefficiency.

If left untreated, sleep apnea will not only have a negative impact on the person's health but lead to poor workplace performance and dissatisfaction too. The good news is sleep apnea is a treatable condition which can significantly improve the quality of a person's professional life. Encouraging your employees to undergo a consultation with a sleep specialist will help. Acknowledging and correctly handling sleep apnea will improve the organizational efficiency, employee performance and will leave you with happy and motivated team.

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