Why is sleep important?

We can often feel we don't have enough time to sleep, but by sacrificing sleep for wakefulness we run the risk of serious physical and mental ill-health, as well as inferior work outcomes.

While most of us recognise that sleep is important for our health and well-being, we have, since 1960, decreased our average sleep time from 8.5 hours per night to 6.5 hours during the working week. Research suggests this a problem.

Sleep is vitally important to both our short- and long-term health.

Sleep is vitally important to both our short- and long-term health. In the short term, inadequate sleep increases your risk of succumbing to more cold and 'flu infections. In the long-term, it means that you are more likely to develop chronic diseases such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity and to die younger than the well-slept person. However, the consequences of not getting enough sleep don't stop with physical health. Sleep is also integrally linked to our mood state and lack of it is known to increase the risk of poor mental health and chronic depression.

Apart from the personal cost it is now becoming clear that poor sleep can seriously impact the workplace Numerous studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation is linked with slower thought processes, an increased error rate, flawed judgments, poor memory and decreased learning ability. Unsurprisingly these consequences are known to create an inefficient and less productive workplace.

Additionally, people with poor sleep are seven times more likely to be involved in a motor-vehicle or occupational accident and increasingly sleep deprivation is being recognised as a major factor in road and workplace accidents.