25 Jul 2018

How Sleep Deprivation Affects Performance

Many Australians are desperately trying to balance the growing demands of work with family and leisure time every day, and in an attempt to find more hours, people are pushing back on sleep.

Does this sound familiar?

This is not just happening in Australia but around the globe. In fact, a 2018 study by the Oxford University Press’ SLEEP journal1 described the lack of sleep a ‘worldwide epidemic’.

What is sleep deprivation?

Sleep deprivation is a general term used to describe the state caused by inadequate quantity or quality of sleep.

Sleep is an essential part of maintaining both physical and mental health, and although people’s habits can differ, the average required sleep for an adult is around 7.5 hours every night. While sleeping less is often considered simply a lifestyle choice, there are real consequences to missing out on valuable sleep, and if it continues over a long period of time, it can have a detrimental effect on your health, quality of life and overall performance.

Our performance levels

Today, we are expected to be at the top of our game during work hours, we need to be fully functional for our family responsibilities, and we want to be healthy and happy during our personal time- however, sleep deprivation can negatively affect our performance in all three areas.  

This is because a lack of sleep can:

  1. Make it hard to concentrate
    Poor sleeping habits can impact neurological functions, which can slow reaction times and create difficulties when trying to concentrate[2]. Not being able to concentrate on what we’re doing, whether its work, driving or any other of our daily tasks, can mean even the simple things require more time and effort.
  2. Make you lethargic
    After a sleepless night, it’s normal to feel slow and sluggish the following day, and that can force you to reach for temporary fixes like coffee or sugar to keep your energy up. The problem with this is, it wears off and there is no replacement for sleep. Feeling groggy diminishes your motivation, making doing anything a real struggle, whether it’s work or anything else you need to do.
  3. Affect your memory
    Your thought process and memory retention are also impacted when you have poor quality sleep. This can result in a poor memory recall, as well as an increased likelihood of mentally ‘stalling’, fixating on one thought or making mistakes through forgetfulness [3].
  4. Can risk our safety
    We’re less alert when we’re running on little sleep which can increase risks of accidents, whether that’s at work, on the roads or even while at home.
  5. Make us grumpy
    We all know how cranky we can get when we’re tired, and unfortunately, this impact on our mood can leave us feeling irritated towards everything and everyone around us. When we feel like this at work or with family, we quickly find ourselves getting angry which reduces our ability to focus on tasks.

Getting sufficient sleep every night is important as it plays an essential role in our performance undertaking life’s daily tasks. In addition to causing problems with our work productivity, sleep deprivation is likely to have negative impacts on other areas of our lives as well.

Learn How to Improve Your Overall Sleep

In a world today where it’s all too easy to experience sleep depravity, we should all be aiming to get the most out of our sleep to remain healthy and happy each day.

At ResSleep, we have created a free eBook available to download right now, called the 8 Ways To Sleep Better Tonight, which explains the eight best ways to improve your sleep in order to get the best rest out of every night.

ResSleep - 8 Great Sleep Tips


[1] Sleep Journal. Oxford University Press – June 2018.

[2] Sleep deprivation: why your brain needs to go to sleep. University of Queensland. https://qbi.uq.edu.au/blog/2017/10/sleep-deprivation-why-your-brain-needs-go-sleep

[3] Sleep deprivation. Better Health Victoria. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/sleep-deprivation