If lack of sleep leads to arguments at work, my colleagues better watch out…

“Sleep loss ‘starts arguments at work’,” according to a story on the BBC website. If that’s true, my colleagues better watch out for me today. After the night I’ve just had, heads could be bitten off; or they could if I went in for such behaviour.

A study – and isn’t there always a new one of those along to keep you awake at night – postulates that erratic and disruptive behaviour at work can be caused “by even a single night’s loss of sleep”.

Now to some of us a single night’s loss of sleep would be a wonderful thing. Just image the bliss of losing sleep for a single night. The truly dedicated sleep dodger puts in years of sheet-wrangling and switching lights on and off, along with reading at all hours and making herbal tea, which is to say not proper tea, at 2am – never mind one night without sufficient shut-eye

Frankly someone who can’t hack work after that must be a yawning wimp. Anyway, this study says that lack of sleep leads to tired workers (a finding in line with a meteorological study concluding that rain leads to wet pavements) and can also cause “unwanted” activity linked to lower levels of self-control. In other words, you’re more likely to go off on one at work if you’ve slept badly.

Now this study is published by the Rotterdam School of Management – not the Rotterdam School of Sleeplessness or the Rotterdam Insomnia Institute (neither of which exists, as far as I know: I was going to check but had a yawn instead). Unsurprisingly, the study maintains that sleep-related disruption can cost billions in lost productivity.

Oh, I see – never mind the poor sufferer of shattered sleep, it’s the lost billions we should worry about. Next time I shall try counting bouncing billions instead of muddy-arsed sheep; not that I have ever found counting things, woolly ruminants or otherwise, to be much help.

Also of little use have been assorted herbal remedies and either drinking or not drinking coffee after a certain time in the day.

Maybe not sleeping, or sleeping badly, is just one of those things from which some people suffer. I have written about this before and it’s all a bit of a bore, but I return because so many people suffer in this way. In the small hours you can feel lonely being awake when you should be asleep, but in fact you are part of a community of red-eyed refugees from a land called sleep. You may be alone in the spare bed or on the sofa, but you are not alone in a wider sense.

This Rotterdam study suggests that poor behaviour in the workplace “often stems from selfish impulses that are not kept in check by self-control”, says research Laura Giurge. This could, she says, be anything from being rude to someone in the office to an increased likelihood of workplace theft. Her study also suggests that lack of sleep can reduce people’s sense of self-control and male them behave in a way they would not do normally, and that this can lead into “a possibly destructive cycle”.

Here are a few thoughts from the top of my headache. Personal anecdotage suggests that I stay calm at work even after not much sleep, whereas a former colleague used to be the one who sometimes ranted and bit off heads; mind you, he didn’t get much sleep either, through being too busy, or that was his excuse anyway.

If this study is true, then we should worry for the world; not for lost billions that have probably never been lost anyway, but because our political leaders often have little time for good sleep, and could well be leading us to whatever precipice awaits after suffering from a string of bad nights. That Theresa May doesn’t look like she gets much kip.

And to close, here’s how last night went: read on and off up in our attic bedroom; went down at 1am to read in spare bedroom number two, hoping not to disturb our Airbnb guest in spare bedroom number one. Read for a while, fell asleep only to wake up at 4am needing a wee; had to read again for a while, before falling asleep, this time to be woken by the alarm at 6.45am to get up and make breakfast. Upstairs in the bed where I should have been sleeping, my wife had been awake since 5am.

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