Body at Work, Brain at Home?

What would you do if  your CFO came drunk to board meeting? Coming to work after only 4 hours of sleep is no different, may be even worse as the impairment is less obvious.  Abnormal sleepiness costs US corporations at least 100 billion dollars every year in lost productivity, medical expenses, sick leave, and property and environmental damage. The staggering cost of sleep deprivation also includes such things as oil spills, plane crashes, and automobile accidents where the lack of sleep was a factor. And they include less visible costs associated with mortality, morbidity, performance, other forms of accidents and injuries, quality of life, family well-being, and health care utilization.

Work place drowsiness is less obvious than this but equally disastrous.

How common is work place drowsiness? In 2008, the National Sleep Foundation surveyed a thousand employees, and there were startling and alarming results:

  • 36 percent admitted to having nodded off or fallen asleep while driving.
  • 29 percent said they had fallen asleep or become very sleepy at work.
  • 12 percent confessed to researchers that they had been late to work because of sleepiness.

What is the medical evidence? The prefrontal cortex, part of the frontal lobe, is the most active area of the brain in rested individuals. However, in sleep-deprived people, this part of the brain nearly shuts down. The majority of the deficits created because of this persist despite strong motivation. The prefrontal cortex governs executive function, which includes our ability to:

  • Make sound decisions
  • Predict the consequences of our actions
  • Remain goal-oriented
  • Conduct ourselves in a socially acceptable manner, that is, control our urges so as to avoid behavior that is unacceptable or even illegal
  • Plan, discriminate, make decisions, direct and sustain attention while ignoring distractions, and initiate goal-directed behavior
  • Have flexible and innovative thinking and decision making in response to novel and unexpected information and events
  • Integrate emotions and cognition to help resolve ethical dilemma

In general, sleep loss results in:

  • Lapsing, cognitive slowing, memory impairment, and reduced vigilance
  • Change in mood and motivation, failure to complete routines, slower responses, physical exertion, and bickering
  • Increased reaction time and decreased vigilance and attention
  • Impaired working memory, verbal fluency, logical reasoning, decision making, and judgment
  • Decrements in innovative, flexible thinking and strategic planning
  • Increased perseveration (trying failed solutions repeatedly) and lack of flexibility
  • Inability to focus on greater good and resultant indecisiveness when faced with an ethical dilemma
  • Inability to set ambitious goals
  • Diminished problem solving abilities
  • Severely diminished ability to manage information
  • Reactive instead of proactive response
  • Diminished verbal fluency and communication skills
  • Emotional agnosia (inability to recognize and manage emotions)
  • Impaired mood, cognition, and psychomotor vigilance (makes you grumpy, foggy, and clumsy)

Because of the effect of sleep deprivation on the prefrontal cortex, sleep-deprived leaders lack the speed and creative resources to make quick, logical decisions and implement them well. These same studies indicate that a sleep-deprived person lacks the ability to consider multiple tasks simultaneously, which reduces the speed and efficiency of one’s actions.

What can you do?
  • Lead by example. Guard your sleep with same tenacity you guard your bottom line as both are intricately tied together.
  • Promote 7-8 hours of sound sleep in your department, and in your company.
  • Maintain regular sleep-wake schedule even on weekends.
  • Get 30 minutes of exercise every day.
  • Avoid caffeine certainly after 1 PM.
  • Avoid alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime.
  • Keep bedroom cool, quiet, and dark.
  • Keep laptop, Smartphone, and work related material out of bedroom.
  • Pray before going to bed.
  • Request referral to a sleep physician if your colleague has excessive sleepiness.
Remember, suboptimal alertness leads to suboptimal leadership.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Vanguard Blog

Insights and opinions from Vanguard leaders

who is bert

a dialogue on mind, consciousness and existence

Delicious plant-based, whole food recipes & my healthy living tips!


Five true stories, every five weeks.

Talkin' Reckless

Thoughts on feminism, health, and education

The Blog

The latest news on and the WordPress community.

Nursing Clio

The Personal is Historical


Support for survivors of domestic violence, rape and fraud

The Vedic Philosophy (ऋषिचिंतन)

Veda || The Received Name for The Highest Spiritual Truth of which The Human Mind is Capable

Proactive Indian

Reflections on everyday life in India and elsewhere

Life's Little Banter

Right now is the oldest you have ever been and the youngest you will ever be...

The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

My life and everything that touches it....


The memory improvement blog

Inspirational Quotes | Motivational Blog | Images | Pictures

Quotes For Kids | Success Quotes | Bob Marley Quotes


“When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch". Bette Davis


Fine Art Photographer ~ Daring to be Different


Breaking news and updates from News pictures, video, Twitter trends.


News and reviews from the world of gadgets, gear, apps and the web


Opening doors to enhanced life experiences by uncovering the unseen

Broken Light: A Photography Collective

We are photographers living with or affected by mental illness; supporting each other one photograph at a time. Join our community, submit today!

Suzanne Askham

Intuitive meditation


Form, Flow and Grace


Knowledge and Happiness(K&H) multiples by dividing it. More you share, higher and bigger they grow.

Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


Snap pictures, tell stories

Love. Life.

It's simple, yet powerful.


adventures in living my yoga, untethering my soul all whilst not giving up on chocolate or wine

Seven Spheres

Aqua Terra Ignis et Aer

The Daily Post

The Art and Craft of Blogging

Personal Branding for Professional Sucess

The Premier Personal Branding Blog in India

Egyptian Streets

Independent Media

A pulmonary & sleep physician, I blog @ sleeping soundly, working happily, leading humbly, & living fully.

Bucket List Publications

Indulge- Travel, Adventure, & New Experiences

Depression Time

A journal about depression, panic, and creating a life of clarity, balance, and meaning.


Just the good stuff.

Șic și clasic - "Chic & Classic" luxury fine arts, entirely handcrafted, original design

Cand cumperi arta nu cumperi doar ceea ce vezi si pipai cumperi sufletul unui om, sufletul artistului pentru ca el/ artistul s-a uitat in sufletul lui si a scos de acolo ce a gasit

Basic Maths

A thoughtfully designed and well-constructed grid theme.


I'm a writer writing for the joy of it.

British Asian Woman

Daily life and current affairs from a cross-cultural perspective

Matt on Not-WordPress

Stuff and things.

%d bloggers like this: